Elmer Leland (Lee) Parker, Jr. passed away on August 31, 2017 in Crystal River, Florida, at the age of 78. Lee was born with a love of horses and grew up riding them. While living in Miami running his sod and landscape business in the 1960’s, he bought his first horse, an Appaloosa, in Miami for his daughter’s ninth birthday, and that opened the floodgates. Soon after, Lee bought riding horses for the whole family, which prompted a move to a small farm in the Redlands area of Miami, where he built riding stables and boarded horses.
In 1974, the family moved near Williston, Florida, to start a cattle farm. But then Lee went to his first Thoroughbred sale in Ocala and he was hooked for good! He started off with a couple of mares, but that number increased significantly over the next decade. Lee developed Don Dee Farm & Training Center with five large barns and an excellent track. He raced under the name of Horses Of Course, and was a longtime Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company shareholder.
Upon his retirement to Crystal River in 2001, Lee continued to own a few horses and stayed active in their training and racing. He finally sold his last horse in 2015, after 46 years of devoted horsemanship. He loved breeding and training horses and always said how blessed his life was that he could do what he loved.
Lee was born on September 6, 1938 in Miami, to Elmer L. Parker, Sr. and Thelma Parker. He had four siblings: Jackie Parker Kroger, Peggy Parker Hamilton, Bruce Parker and Richard Parker. With the nieces and nephews they gave him, it was quite a family.
He married Paula Edmiston in 1959 and received his discharge from the Air Force in 1960. Lee and Paula are the parents of Donna Parker Kassewitz, Deanna Parker Rodrick, and Leland Parker III and grandparents of Jennifer Rodrick, Jason Rodrick, Jarrod Rodrick, Noel Kassewitz, Perker Kassewitz, Hayden Parker and Landen Parker.
A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, October 21, 2017 at Plantation on Crystal River, in the Magnolia Room at 12 noon. Lunch will be served afterwards. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either the Florida Thoroughbred Charities https://www.ftboa.com/Articles?Article=100011 or to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research https://www.michaeljfox.org/