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The Journal Gazette

Friday, March 31, 2017 4:10 pm

Hillegas Road section dedicated in Parker's honor

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

Officials from the city of Fort Wayne, Allen County and the State of Indiana were joined by dozens of Eugene Parker's friends and relatives Friday to dedicate a portion of Hillegas Road in honor of the renowned sports agent. 

"We want to make sure when people see this sign, they don't just think of Eugene just to remember him, but hopefully both young people and people from all around the city when they see the sign, it can inspire them to lead better lives and follow their dreams," said Eugene's son, Brandon Parker. "Because my dad was a dreamer."

Parker's legacy as one of the first African-American sports agents was marked by the effect he had on his clients, including Hall of Fame football players Deion Sanders, Rod Woodson and Curtis Martin.

Parker, who was born and raised in Fort Wayne, died March 31, 2016, after a battle with cancer. About 1,500 people attended his funeral.

To further honor Parker and his contributions, the city and county named Friday Eugene E. Parker Day. 

"Eugene Parker has made us very, very proud. His life was not only about the quality of athlete that he was, but the man that he became," Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters said. 

Peters said Parker's crowning achievements were the love he had for his family and community.

"He never forgot his hometown, and he's created a bond amongst his family and friends to be envied," Peters said. 

Friday's dedication is important because it underscores Parker's contributions to Fort Wayne and Allen County, Mayor Tom Henry said. 

"To have someone of Deion Sanders' stature want to know if we knew Eugene Parker, I think that speaks volumes of him as an individual, about him as someone who represented the city of Fort Wayne," Henry said. "That's why this dedication, why this memorial is so important, because we need to have others know how important he was to us as well."

Parker's family was also joined by Pastor Al Jennings of Summit Church, County Commissioners Therese Brown and Linda Bloom, State Senate Pro-Tem David Long and Jay Wasson, chief operations officer for physical facilities at Purdue University, Parker's alma mater. 

dgong@jg.net