The Alpha–1 community, including AlphaNet and the Alpha–1 Foundation, is grieving the loss of our friend, and AlphaNet REACH program coordinator Bruce Parker, from Chattanooga, TN. Bruce, who was also an Alpha, parted on March 28, 2018 after some health complications overwhelmed him. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Marcia.
“We don’t have any kids, but lots of wonderful nieces and nephews. We are real big on family gatherings. I have two brothers and one sister, and my wife is one of seven kids, so we spend a lot of time with family,” Bruce said in one opportunity.
A family person, Bruce also considered the Alpha–1 community as his own family. Back in 2016, when AlphaNet interviewed him for the position of REACH Coordinator, he was writing about why he felt he would be a good candidate for the job, and he wrote: “I went from great health to being on 10 liters of oxygen over a 15-year period, so I lived through a lot with Alpha–1. I want to give something back.”
“I first met Bruce when he was interviewing for an AlphaNet Coordinator position. Bruce’s warm, positive personality created a connection right away. He reached out to us all in his own special way. He truly lived the AlphaNet motto ”Alphas Serving Alphas“. He will be missed by us all,” expressed Peggy Iverson, Zemaira Program Manager for AlphaNet.
Prior to working for AlphaNet, Bruce spent 35 years in the heavy truck industry. Most of that time was spent in sales and he covered four states, so he had to travel every week. He enjoyed the contact with his customers, which helped make the time away from home a little easier to handle.
He loved college football and was a big University of Georgia fan. In 1993, he attended a home game in Athens, Georgia, and he noticed that climbing the steps of the stadium made him short of breath. That worried him, so when he was back home, he visited his doctor and told him what had happened. Soon after that, he was diagnosed with Alpha–1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha–1).
“Bruce was a great story teller, he could tell a great joke and loved calling with Alphas to educate and empower them to be their own health advocates. He had an incredible work ethic and he worked very hard to grow the REACH program,” said Teresa Kitchen, BSN, RN, Clinical Nurse Manager of AlphaNet.
Following his diagnosis, he continued to work until 2008 when he had to retire. In late 2009, Bruce developed double pneumonia and his lungs never fully recovered. At that time, he also learned his heart had been damaged due to lack of oxygen. In June of 2010, he had a heart and double lung transplant, and survived eight great years. He felt blessed with that gift and he worked very hard to take care of it.
“I am saddened by the news of Bruce Parker’s passing, he was my AlphaNet Coordinator and my friend. Bruce was a man with a passion for our community and connecting Alphas with the information and support they needed through the REACH Program. Bruce helped many of us. His positive nature and smile will be missed,” said Henry Moehring, president and CEO of the Alpha–1 Foundation.
A funeral service will be held on Saturday, March 31, 2018 at 12 Noon in the sanctuary of Woodland Park Baptist Church.