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Taps and Train Whistle Signal Passing of Orange Police Chief : Funeral: Michael D. Parker was passionate about his work--law enforcement--and his hobby--railroading.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a traditional show of respect for one of their own, police officers conducted a 21-gun salute and helicopters circled overhead at the funeral of Michael D. Parker, the Orange police chief eulogized as an honest and caring man who was passionate about his work.

Less traditional was the sound of a train whistle that was blown near the end of the service--a tribute to his passion for railroading. “He was the only railroad magnate I’ve known in my life,” joked Msgr. John F. Sammon during the services.

Parker died Thursday after a five-year battle with cancer. Throughout the funeral service, he was lauded as a dedicated leader who protected the integrity of the Police Department throughout his 28-year career.

“He was a hard worker and he wore that badge proudly,” Sammon said. ". . . Michael Parker died at a time when everyone in the country is pointing at law enforcement and saying you are no good. No one could ever point a finger at Michael Parker and say he lived a double life.”

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Sammon addressed about 2,500 people who crowded into Holy Family Cathedral, including about 150 Orange police officers and nearly 400 officers from departments across the county. Because the church’s capacity is about 1,700, some friends and colleagues of the chief had to line up against the church walls when the pews became filled.

Parker’s colleagues said he was well-liked and will long be remembered for his persistence in getting the new Orange police facility completed. And to show their respect, the City Council voted to name the new police station after Parker.

“The Orange police facility will be known as the Mike Parker police facility,” said Mayor Gene Beyer, whose voice trembled as he spoke of his longtime friend.

“It’s been a privilege, my 27-year friendship with Chief Parker, and it’s been a privilege to be a part of his work with the city of Orange,” he said.

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On the way to Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, fire engines parked along the route sounded their sirens and firefighters stood at attention.

At the cemetery, an officer ended the eulogy by playing taps and afterward a U.S. flag draped over Parker’s coffin was folded and handed to his widow, Kathy. The service was culminated by the whistle of a train.

Because he loved trains, Parker worked part time pitching coal into the steam engine at Disneyland, where his wife also worked. Friends said Parker built a large model train system in his back yard and often invited friends and staff to parties there.

Parker was a longtime resident of Yorba Linda and the father of three. He spent his entire police career at the Orange Police Deparment. Sgt. Robert Gustafson said the police chief will be missed. “Not only did he do a lot of things as a police officer,” he said, “he did a lot of things for the people that worked for him, and he instilled a lot of his values in others. That legacy is going to live on.”

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