Lutrelle Fleming Parker, Sr.
Captain, United States Navy
The Honorable Lutrelle Fleming Parker Sr. was born in Newport News, Virginia,
on March 10, 1924. He had been a long term resident of Arlington County
Virginia before his death on December 16, 1994.
Mr. Parker was a 1947 civil engineering graduate of Howard University. Prior to joining the United States Patent Office (the predecessor of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) in 1947, he had already served a combined five years in the government and military. When he joined the Patent Office, Mr. Parker was one of the rare African American patent examiners on the job. While employed at the Patent Office, he was one of the first four African Americans accepted at Georgetown Law School. He graduated from the Georgetown University Law School in 1952. He later worked as an Attorney in the Office of the Solicitor of the Patent Office.
Mr. Parker served with particular distinction from 1961 through June, 1970, in the Solicitor's Office. He received a Superior Accomplishment Award in 1962 and the Commerce Department's second highest award - Meritorious Service Award (Silver Medal)- in 1963. In 1964, he was the recipient of a Department of Commerce Science and Technology Fellowship (later serving as president of the Fellows). Mr. Parker served on the Johnson Commission (called for by President Lyndon B. Johnson) that made recommendations on Patent Office reform. On June 10, 1970, Mr. Parker received a Presidential Certificate of Commendation from President Nixon for exceptional service to others. He was listed in Who's Who in Government in 1972.
Toward the end of his tenure in the Solicitor's Office, on March 11, 1970, Mr. Parker was nominated for a position as an Examiner-in-Chief on the Board of Patent Appeals by President Richard Nixon. He was confirmed by the Senate on May 14, 1970. He was sworn in by Secretary Maurice Stans on June 29, 1970, as the first African American to hold such a position.
Mr. Parker was nominated for the position of Deputy Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks on December 30, 1974, by President Gerald R. Ford. He was confirmed by the Senate on February 11, 1975, and sworn in on March 8, 1975. He was the first African American to hold that position.
He served as Acting Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks from August, 1977, to June, 1978, as the first African American to hold the position of Commissioner in any capacity. Again, in 1979, Mr. Parker was appointed Acting Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks following the resignation of Donald Banner by President Jimmy Carter. He was the first African American to hold that position. He returned to his position on the Board of Patent Appeals in 1980, where he stayed through its reorganization as the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences until he retired in 1986. In 1995 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office named its law library for Mr. Parker. The Lutrelle F. Parker Sr. Memorial Law Library was dedicated on June 19, 1995 and is located in Crystal Park One, Room 568.
During his military career in the Navy, Mr. Parker served as a Gunnery Officer aboard an AKA in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. After leaving the active military, Mr. Parker was commissioned upon graduation from the U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipman's School, Cornell University, becoming one of the earliest African American Navy Officers. Mr. Parker rose to the Navy rank of Captain. Captain Parker completed Senior Naval Reserve Officers' Courses at the United States Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. While in the Naval Reserve, Captain Parker was Commanding Officer of Reserve Crew U.S.S. Steinaker (DD-863); Commanding Officer of Reserve Crew U.S.S. Allen Sumner (DD-692, Commanding Officer of Military Training Division 5-1, and Commanding Officer of a Shore Patrol Station in New York City. On July 9, 1974, Captain Parker (at the time, the highest ranking African American naval reserve officer in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area) took command of Destroyer Atlantic Detachment 406. He was the first African American commander of the Destroyer detachment. During this command, he supported the regular naval forces of Destroyer Squadron 30 which was made up of six ships. He retired from the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1992.
As an Arlington County resident, Mr. Parker was active in civic activities. He was the first African American to serve as a member and, subsequently, Chairman of the Arlington County Planning Commission. He was a member of the Arlington County Zoning Appeals Board and President of the Nauck Citizens Association. He was a member of the Board of Management of the Veterans Memorial YMCA, Arlington. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Arlington Metropolitan Chorus; a member of the Board of Visitors of George Mason University of Virginia (where he helped found the George Mason School of Law); and chairman, Long Range Planning and Zoning Committee, George Mason University of Virginia. Mr. Parker was also Vice President of the Board of Trustees, Arlington Hospital, a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, Arlington Hospital, and Chairman of the In-Depth Study Committee of the Arlington Hospital, He was a member of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
His participation in organizations was not confined to Arlington County. He was a member of the Board of Directors, Metropolitan Washington YMCA. Mr. Parker was a member of the Howard University Engineering and Architect Alumni Association, a member of the U.S. Patent Office Society, a 33 degree Mason and a Shriner, a member of the Naval Reserve Policy Board, and a member of the Admissions Interview Committee at Georgetown University.
Besides the numerous awards that Mr. Parker received for his government service, he received numerous other awards, including the Howard University School of Engineering Alumni Award in 1961, the Howard University General Alumni Association Award in 1962, the Arlington Links Outstanding Citizens Award in 1968, and the Alpha Phi Civic Award in 1972.
Mr. Parker was married for 48 years to his wife Lillian M. Parker. This union produced three sons: Lutrelle F. Parker Jr., Captain, United States Navy; Dr. Wendell E. Parker; and the late Marine Corps Major Raymond D. Parker.
Posted: 19 December 2001 Updated: 31 May 2003 Updated: 10 August 2003 Updated: 26 May 2006
Photos By M. R. Patterson, 28 June 2003