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Orin D. Parker family papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 8797

Scope and Contents

Contains the research and writings of Orin Parker (mainly regarding his career in AMIDEAST), personal writings of Rita Clement Parker, research and documents on the Parker and Clement family lines (Bird, Drury, Duke Estes, Kartchner, Murphy, and others), 25 family "logs" (yearly scrapbooks compiled by Rita), and assorted other family papers. Materials are dated approximately 1940-2015.


  • approximately 1940-2015


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Orin D. Parker family papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical History

Orin D. Parker (1923-2014) was an American broadcaster and diplomat, and a Mormon local ecclesiastical leader in the Middle East.

Orin Dean Parker was the grandson of Wyman Mynard Parker who founded the town of Parker, Idaho, where he was born on June 5, 1923, as the youngest of five children to Laura Vawdrey Parker, only three months after his father, Lionel Parker, died unexpectedly. He moved shortly thereafter to St. Anthony, Idaho, and graduated from St. Anthony High School in 1941. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communications from Brigham Young University. He married Rita Clement on Feb. 20, 1951, in the Salt Lake Temple. Orin's service in the war first opened his eyes to the world, and he was determined to seek a life of learning and travel. Shortly after finishing college, where he first met Rita, he moved east to Washington, D.C. and bigger opportunities. While waiting for security clearance for a government job that would take him abroad, he worked as assistant director in TV for the local NBC station and then as Assistant Public Information Officer at Walter Reed Army Hospital. It was during this same period that Orin and Rita realized how much they missed and loved each other and they were soon married in the Salt Lake Temple. The learning and travel quickly followed, along with children, as he was posted first to Athens, Greece. Not long after completing a course in Arabic, he was sent to Ankara, Turkey. In between overseas postings, he and his growing family resided in the Washington, D.C. area. Wherever they lived, they made life-long friends. In 1960, he joined American Friends of the Middle East (AFME), a non-profit educational organization, and took Rita and their four children to Baghdad, Iraq, where he opened their local office. A fifth child was born during their five years in Baghdad. Upon their return to the states, they settled in Bethesda, Maryland, and over the next six years, Orin worked his way up in the organization to become executive vice president. AFME grew under his leadership and was renamed AMIDEAST, Inc. In 1971, Orin began his final posting overseas in Beirut, Lebanon. After four idyllic years there, civil war erupted, and the next three years were particularly challenging for the family. Along with his efforts to keep the office functioning and his family safe, he used that time to begin writing his first novel, "Burial in Beirut." Upon his return to the U.S. in 1979, he was made president of AMIDEAST. By the time he retired in 1988, he was honored by the National Association of Foreign Student Affairs as one of forty Americans who had impacted foreign student affairs in a major way. He spent his years in retirement with Rita in Oceanside, writing and publishing family history and six more novels. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Orin also served in various ecclesiastical capacities throughout his lifetime, including counselor in the Chevy Chase Ward bishopric and most memorably as president of the Beirut Branch. In Baghdad and Beirut, he and Rita hosted visiting church leaders. Following retirement, they also served as missionaries in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, and as ordinance workers in the San Diego Temple. Orin Dean Parker, 90, passed away January 6, 2014, in his home in Oceanside, California.

Biographical History

Rita Clement Parker (1926-2015) was a Mormon wife and mother, club woman, and amateur theatrical performer.

Clement was born July 4, 1926, in Menan, Idaho to Millie Selck and Horace P. Clement, the third of four children (Lila Steele, Horace Keith Clement and Phyllis Sanders) all now deceased. The family lived in Idaho Falls, Idaho; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Richmond, California before Rita enrolled at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, graduating in 1948.

At Brigham Young University she met Orin and formed eternal friendships with her college roommates. Throughout her life, the "Roomies" and "Roomeos" (Roomies' boyfriends, later husbands) continued their "Round Robin" letter writing and reunions. Rita acted in numerous BYU theatrical productions, many written or directed by Orin. They married February 20, 1951, in the Salt Lake Temple.

Starting life together in Washington, D.C., they soon moved abroad, living in Athens, Greece; Ankara, Turkey; and Baghdad, Iraq. Each of their five children was born in a different country, and only two were born on the same continent. The family returned to the D.C. area in 1965, living in Bethesda, Maryland, until relocating to Beirut, Lebanon, from 1971 to 1978. Orin and Rita returned to D.C. until their retirement and move to Oceanside, California, in 1988. In D.C. Rita worked for an ophthalmologist and later the American Society for Microbiology.

Wherever she lived, Rita actively involved herself in the local community, participating in theater and choral groups, tap dancing, and graciously hosting dignitaries and friends galore. As with her "Roomies," she formed and maintained everlasting friendships with (what to her family seemed) everyone.

She was president of the American Women's Club in Baghdad and served on the boards of the American Community School and American Women's Club in Beirut. In California, she was active in the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.

She served in various capacities as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including president of her ward's Young Women and Relief Society organizations. She and Orin hosted visiting Church leaders in Baghdad and Beirut. Following retirement, they served as missionaries in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, and as ordinance workers in the San Diego Temple.

She passed away June 29, 2015, at home in Oceanside, California, five days shy of her 89th birthday and a year and a half following the death of her husband, Orin D. Parker.


13 cartons (13 linear ft.)

1 box (0.5 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Materials are arranged loosely by creator; family logs are chronological.

Custodial History

Donated to the library by Parker's daughter, Tanya Parker Mills, on October 23, 2015. They were then transferred to Special Collections by librarian Connie Lamb.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Tanya Parker Mills; October 2015.


Utah and the American West and LDS cultural, social, and religious history (20th century Western & Mormon Manuscripts Collecting Policy, II.B.5.VII, 2016).

Processing Information

Processed; Amanda Crandall, manuscripts specialist; 2016.

Register of Orin D. Parker family papers
Amanda Crandall, manuscripts specialist
2016 September 14
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.
Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States