June 2, 1999: Musician Rex Parker Dies in Princeton

Rex and Eleanor Parker recorded with their daughters as The Parker Family

Musician Rex Parker died at Princeton in Mercer County on June 2, 1999.

The Fayette County native was the patriarch of the Parker Family, a popular musical fixture on West Virginia radio and television stations for more than a half century.

Parker started his career in the late 1930s on WCHS radio in Charleston and WJLS in Beckley. He was in his late teens at the time. In 1941, he married Eleanora Niera, the daughter of Spanish immigrants. The next day, Rex and Eleanor began their career as a country music duo on WHIS in Bluefield. They also worked on WOAY in Oak Hill and other radio stations before moving into TV in the 1950s. Two of their original songs—“Build Your Treasures in Heaven” and “Moonlight on West Virginia”—received considerable airplay.

After becoming Born-Again Christians in 1959, the Parkers performed only sacred music. By this time, daughters Conizene and Rexana had joined them. The Parkers hosted a weekly live program on WOAY-TV during the ‘60s and ‘70s. In later years, they performed mostly in local churches and had a Sunday morning radio program in Princeton.