Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

August 18, 2013

Fatal Attraction: Georgia man’s love of Montana ends in tragedy

(Continued)

-- — “I have no doubts that my move to Montana has given most people that know me pause, as it is as strange and desolate place to them as the wilds of Denali ... Having never been to this frontier, this place of natural beauty and little human interaction, one would be easily mislead into believing that all that awaits me here are the twin specters of loneliness and (possibly) death.” – Austin Parker blog, July 3.

Meeting Austin

Austin Parker grew up in a classic south Georgia family in Valdosta, a town of 54,518 at the last census. The oldest of three boys, Parker graduated from Lowndes High School in 2008 and attended Georgia Tech before transferring to Cornell.

“My middle son got an athletic grant from Cornell, so I kind of negotiated a 2-for-1 deal,” Steve, Austin Parker’s father, said on the phone — sitting in his air-conditioned car and attempting to escape the suffocating summer south Georgia heat — after dropping one of his sons off at football practice.

Austin Parker majored in applied economics and management and graduated from Cornell in December 2012. In March 2013, he clinched a job as a manager-in-training with SecurAmerica LLC, a large private security firm.

He answered an online ad for a guest-room rental in Atlanta. Shortly after, he moved to the house, which belonged to Craig Mendel, a 37-year-old commercial real estate agent and Parker’s roommate during his four-month tenure.

“He was the kind of person that struck me as ‘beyond his years,’” Mendel said. “He was very thoughtful — he thought on a different level than most 23-year-olds.”

 During his tenure with SecurAmerica, Parker was like any other bright, aspiring businessman.

“He would come home and make spreadsheets and charts, thinking of ways to make the company better,” Steve Parker said.

Ron Hall, a SecurAmerica human relations manager at the company’s corporate offices in Atlanta, and who served as Parker’s mentor during his time with the company, said he quickly realized Parker was “smart as a whip.”

“He’s very knowledgeable and action oriented,” Hall said. “He’s a go-getter. A very smart kid. When he got into a project, he might be at the office until anywhere from 7 to 9:30 at night. He’s fresh out of college, and he wanted to fix the world. He taught me more than I taught him.”

After a while, Parker realized the corporate world wasn’t for him.

“He’d come home from the office, and he’d be like, ‘I can do this, I can do that,’ and I’d be like, ‘Wait your turn,’ but he wouldn’t want to. His reaction was ‘Why? Why do I need to wait — why can’t it happen now?’ In a sense, he was very impatient to make his mark,” Mendel said.

“He knew what he wanted to do and who he wanted to be, in the context that it wasn’t in Atlanta,” Mendel added.

According to Steve, when Parker announced his resignation, company CEO Frank Argenbright Jr., a legendary entrepreneur who founded the company — which serves Fortune 500 Companies all over the world — in 2005, “tried his best to keep Austin from resigning.” Still, Parker insisted. On his last day of employment, Argenbright called the company heads together and had Parker pitch his ideas on how to strengthen the company.

“That’s the kind of kid he was,” Steve said.

After saying goodbye to Atlanta, Parker made the three-and-a-half- hour drive in Molly back to Valdosta before embarking on his journey to Montana.

“He had a job, he had a place to live, all lined out,” Mendel said.

Text Only
Local News
  • Clay Griner.jpeg Griner wins Lowndes commission runoff

    A long nine-week runoff election between Clay Griner and G. Norman Bennett came to an end Tuesday night with Griner beating Bennett by 1,060 votes, with approximately 70 provisional ballots left to count.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140722-Runoff_Voting003.jpg State Senate District 8 too close to call

    The race for State Senate District 8 appeared too close to call as of The Times print deadline late Tuesday night.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Senate Georgia_Stew.jpg Perdue defeats Kingston in Georgia Senate runoff

    Businessman David Perdue has defeated longtime Rep. Jack Kingston in the Republican runoff for Georgia’s U.S. Senate nomination, setting up a matchup against Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn that will help determine which party controls the Senate for the final years of the Obama administration.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • County OKs $1.6 million for water-treatment equipment

    By a divided vote, the Lowndes County Commission approved spending $1,638,000 to purchase two pieces of equipment to improve the county’s water quality as per an agreement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

    July 23, 2014

  • Baytree Animal Hospital LB copy.JPG Animal hospital named Business of the Week

    Baytree Animal Hospital was named Leading Business of the Week by the  Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce for July 14.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gavel-courtroom.jpg Water treatment plant discussed

    The Lowndes County Board of Commissioners discussed purchasing two pieces of equipment for the Alapaha Water Treatment Plant and the Spring Creek System for a total of $1,638,000 during its Monday work session and is expected to vote on the issue tonight.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • education.jpg Charter school petition denied

    Both the Valdosta City and Lowndes County school boards unanimously denied the joint charter petition from Scintilla Charter Academy during their respective meetings Monday evening.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • echols_alapapa.jpg WWALS gets grant from river network

    The Willacoochee, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Little River Systems Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) received a $500 Alapaha Water Trail Grant from the Georgia River Network

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140718-ARJim2.jpg Teacher at home anywhere in the world

    Variety is the spice of life. South Georgia is home to a diverse group of people, each with a unique life story. One man with glorious tales of travel and selfless volunteer work is Jim Kokoruda.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • fire2a.jpg Blaze damages North Lowndes home

    Lowndes County Fire Rescue responded to a fire call Sunday at 3756 Cross Creek Circle near Bemiss Road.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

Top News
Poll

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results