Musicians Rex and Eleanor Parker, sometimes working with their daughters as the Parker Family, were musical fixtures on radio and television on several stations for more than a half century. Charles ‘‘Rex’’ Parker (September 21, 1921-June 2, 1999) was born in Maplewood and worked as a country musician on WCHS Charleston and WJLS Beckley with various musicians from the late 1930s. On August 31, 1941, he married Eleanora Niera, born February 28, 1922, the daughter of Spanish immigrants, and they began their career as a country music duo on WHIS Bluefield the next day. The Parkers also worked on WOAY Oak Hill and other stations, moving into television during the 1950s. They recorded sparingly for the Cozy and Coral labels, but did turn out two major original songs with ‘‘Build Your Treasures in Heaven’’ and ‘‘Moonlight on West Virginia.’’
In 1959, the Parkers had a conversion experience and thereafter performed only sacred music, recording several albums on King in the early 1960s. By this time, daughters Conizene and Rexana had joined them. Their Songs for Salvation program was a live, weekly feature through most of the 1960s and 1970s on WOAY-TV. In later years, their activity was confined largely to local churches and a Sunday morning radio program in Princeton and occasionally Beckley. After Rex’s death, Eleanor has continued doing the program aided by Conizene and sometimes Rexana.
Written by Ivan M. Tribe
Tribe, Ivan M. Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1984.
Dorgan, Howard. The Airwaves of Zion: Radio & Religion in Appalachia. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1993.