Parkers name CEGE’s Rock Preparation Lab

Greg (Mining Eng. 1957) and Bea Parker named CEGE’s Rock Preparation Lab with a generous gift to the Lacabanne Rock Mechanics Laboratory renovation. They made this gift in celebration of Greg’s education and the interesting and varied career it enabled. Investing in the Lacabanne Lab felt especially appropriate to Greg because as a student he worked for Professor Lacabanne preparing rock cores for testing.That work study job helped him finance his education, for which he is ever grateful.

Greg came to the University intending to pursue mechanical engineering, but his first year he found a passion for mining and followed his heart. The Parkers have regularly invested in new equipment for teaching labs. They believe hands on experiences are an important complement to the theories and concepts taught in the classroom and that CEGE students deserve the best lab experiences possible. Both are grateful to CEGE and hope their legacy of giving will help CEGE students find their passions as Greg did.  

Greg and Bea Parker's wedding portrait

Greg discovered another passion during his first year—he met a charming Swedish Hospital nursing student at a Thanksgiving dance at the Honky Tonk Ballroom in Dell Rapids, South Dakota. Greg grew up in Pipestone, Minnesota, and Bea in Baltic, South Dakota. After earning her nursing degree, Bea supported Greg as he finished at the University.  Greg was recruited for a job with Anaconda Company that included a two-year mine operating training program.  So, with his newly minted degree, Greg and Bea set off to Butte, Montana, with two young children (aged 15 months and 4 weeks) in tow. The first six months of training Greg spent working in an underground mine, an experience that stood him in good stead the rest of his career, as he knew exactly what he was asking of his teams.  

After the first year of training, Anaconda Co. asked Greg to help them build a new mine in El Salvador, Chile. The site was in the desert, thirty miles from the nearest town. A team of 5,000 men (and two women telephone operators) spent the next six months building a new mining camp town for 12,000. Bea joined Greg as soon as there was a house to live in. They spent the next 13 years raising their children in Chile with Greg working primarily at a copper mine. After returning to the US, Greg worked not only in copper mines, but also in coal, lead, molybdenum, nickel, silver, and uranium mines. They moved continuously, and once they moved to three different states in one year. Bea was fond of joking “Shall I dust tomorrow or are we being transferred?” 

They loved it all, soaking up the cultures and embracing new friends wherever they went, even as far away as Australia. Eventually, they settled in Anaconda, Montana. Greg’s final project was overseeing the construction of a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course in Anaconda, on an EPA restoration site. A lifelong golfer, he thought that was a great way to wrap up his career.  They now split their time between Anaconda and Tucson. 

Bea likes to say that Greg proposed to her saying, “Marry me, and I’ll show you the world,” but that what he meant was he would show her the mining camps of the world. Greg kept his promise; they have indeed traveled the world. “All seven continents!” Bea chortles gleefully.