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Giving back to the guy who always gave: Benefit Jan. 24 for longtime Frazee teacher, coach

Parker Williams with nephew Nick Foster and wife Pam Williams take a break from transitional care at Ecumen to spend the Christmas holiday at home. Submitted photo

A benefit is planned for later this month for longtime Frazee-Vergas High School teacher and coach Parker Williams, who recently had a large aggressive tumor removed from behind his tonsils.

He is currently undergoing radiation for stage 4 cancer and has a long road of recovery ahead of him.

Parker has been a solid part of the community since he landed a job teaching and coaching at Frazee in 1970-1971. Through the years he taught high school economics, government, world history, physical education, health and sociology.

And he coached football, wrestling, boys and girls basketball, baseball, "just about everything," his wife said. "He coached his entire high school career."

He was born in Dubuque, Iowa and moved with his family to Cavalier, N.D., when he was 2. He grew up and graduated from high school there in 1965.

He went on to Mayville State College, where he earned a teaching degree—and during freshman year met Pam. They graduated and married in 1969.

For the 1969-1970 school year, they moved to Alvarado, Minn., for Parker's first teaching and coaching job. He coached boys basketball, and the team went to regionals, Pam said.

He landed the job in Frazee the next year, and never looked back. He was there more than 30 years, until he retired in 2002, after undergoing heart surgery in 2001.

He subbed and coached football, girls basketball and baseball for the next six years at Lake Park-Audubon High School. "He likes to coach," Pam said.

Along the way, Parker and Pam had two children—son Bob Williams, the sports editor at this newspaper, and daughter Sarah (Trevor) Tallackson, who have three boys and live in Maple Grove.

Pam, 70, a cosmetologist who worked at a number of salons in the area (including Jonathan's, In Kahoots and Dianna's) retired when Parker was diagnosed with cancer in October.

"He's doing really good now," Pam said in a phone interview Tuesday from Ecumen's Transitional Care Unit. "He gets to go home on Friday."

The chili-feed fundraiser is set for 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 at the Holmes Theatre Ballroom at the Detroit Lakes Community Center. There will be a silent auction, with items including including a $400 steak dinner for 10, half a hog from Lakes Processing, and a golf membership from Maple Hills.

Donations of cookies, bars and bottled water can be dropped off at the Fitness Front Desk of the DL Community Center, said Kathy Dretsch, who is helping organize the benefit.

"Since he retired, he's at the DLCCC (Community Center) all the time," she said. That's why it's being held there."

Parker is coming up with 10 sports trivia questions for each table, but you probably won't find the answer on Google—they will be based on players he has known and teams he has coached, Dretsch said.

There will also be 10 Bible-based trivia questions on each table, because "he's very spiritual," Dretsch said. Parker may be 71, but he's still very competitive, she said. So look for some beanball and perhaps other games at the benefit as well.

"It should be fun," she said.

Other committee members include Jeff Skogmo, Jack Dretsch, Steve Carlson, Woody Blasing, Heidi Mason and Brenda Beebe Wieland.

A GoFundMe account has been set up at