Ward Parker ‘00 is a Geneseo alumnus who has traveled the world spending his life looking for the next best adventure. Parker attended Geneseo in 1975. In 1984, Parker left Geneseo and moved to California, and returned in 2000 to finish his degree in communication.
After leaving Geneseo, Parker became a “jack of all trades, master of none,” working as a grip for a period of time which allowed him to travel the world as an electrician, a teacher at Attica correctional facility and even an owner of a restaurant.
“Mogridder’s World Famous BBQ was a food truck. I had a big smoker on the back, we sold ribs and briquet. Guy Fieri interviewed me, we were on ‘Diners, Drive-ins and Dives’ in his book,” Parker said. “I did it for almost three years being in-charge, but it was a really hard job, working six days a week, 12-hour days. I sold the business, started making sandwiches at a deli, then decided to move back to Geneseo.”
Geneseo has changed immensely since Parker was a student here. Where the Integrated Science Center stands now used to be an empty lot, South Side didn’t exist and neither did Red Jacket. A drastic change was the legal drinking age, which increased from 18 to 21 years old.
“Letchworth Dining Hall had a bar in the basement called The Rathskeller, we called it the Rat. It was great fun, we could buy beer with our meal plan,” Parker said. “Another [bar on campus] was called The Hub which was located in Blake. The Rat had a thing called ‘Subs and Suds,’ you went and they gave you a sub with a thing called a Connell cup, which was a quart of beer.”
Parker worked as an electrician on the set of numerous shows including “Silk Stalking’s,” “Renegade” and “Pensacola: Wings of Gold.” He was able to meet and hangout with numerous famous people.
“I met Johnny Cash on the set of ‘Renegade.’ He was in an episode while I was working with the show,” Parker said. “I met Johnny underneath the roller-coaster at San Diego Amusement Park, he did a little show for everybody, played a few songs while we all sat around and ate lunch. He was a very, very nice guy. Working on television I met a lot of famous people, I have met Brad Pitt, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Sugar Ray Leonard, Lorenzo Lamas and more.”
Parker returned to Geneseo to retire, but quickly got bored. He began working for Campus Auxiliary Services to occupy his time, making sandwiches at Clio’s in Fusion. Parker doesn’t plan on staying in Geneseo for the rest of his life, although he’s unsure of what his next move will be just yet.
“Keep it simple. Follow your passions and don’t complicate your life with too many extraneous things,” Parker said. “My advice is to just keep it as simple as you can.”