Thursday, June 30, 2016

Phil Parker, Who Helped Homeless Alcoholics, Dies at 86

by Sam Roberts

Phil Parker, the son of a Baptist preacher, said he had never tasted liquor until his Harvard graduate school classmates lured him into a smoky cocktail lounge for the first time.

“This night in the bar was like no other time in my life,” he wrote years later. “Not only was I completely at ease, but I actually loved all the strangers around me and they loved me in return, I thought, all because of this magic potion, alcohol.”

After that, he wrote, he lived only to drink. He graduated, but was fired from one teaching job after another, wound up in an asylum and finally landed homeless on the then-squalid Bowery in Manhattan in the mid-1960s. There, he met a social worker, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, who told him how she had sobered up.


Phil Parker in an undated photo. Mr. Parker had been sober for nearly 48 years when he died. Credit Dana McCoy