Local Community Honors Nolan Parker and Family

March 23, 2020

Social distancing thwarted a traditional funeral for Nolan Parker on Saturday, but it didn’t stop over 12,000 from viewing the live-streamed service held at Shelbyville Community Church.

The world changed for community members over the past week, more so for those who knew the Shelbyville High School senior and standout soccer player. Upon hearing the news of Nolan’s tragic death following a two-car accident, SHS soccer coach Ben Purvis arranged for a communal space at SCC for friends to gather and reflect.

“So many wonderful stories were shared about Nolan here inside this church as literally many just flooded into this room and teenager after teenager after teenager shared what Nolan had meant to them,” SCC student ministry pastor Heather Quiroz said. 

Reverend Alecia Gross noted that Nolan’s life was bookended by catastrophic events. He was born four days after Sept. 11, 2001 and passed away just as a pandemic swept the country.

“But in the midst of this, Nolan T. Parker made more of his 18-and-a-half years on this earth than many of us do in double, triple that time,” Gross said.

Highlights of those years were recalled throughout the service. Academic achievements of the National Honor Society member, euchre game shenanigans, and traveling memories were shared.

Nolan is survived by his parents, Michael S. Parker of Columbus and Kristin Spurling Parker of Shelbyville; his 15-year-old sister, Sophie Parker of Shelbyville, and six-month-old sister, Hadley Parker of Columbus; maternal grandparents Larry and Sylvia Spurling; paternal grandmother Sharon Parker; and his Aunt Alison Sabino. He was the only grandson on both sides of the family.

The service included a song from McKenna Hall and remarks from Reverends Chuck Jordan and Alecia Gross and relatives.

Mr. Larry Spurling thanked those who have offered assistance to the family during this time, including Steve Browning, who organized a scholarship in Nolan’s name, and Doug Cassidy and Becky Bishopp at Bishopp’s Appliances.

Spurling also recalled that a few years ago, the family’s church, Evangelical United Church of Christ, needed help continuing its tradition of hanging Christmas wreaths on each end of a tall wooden cross behind the pulpit.

“The last few years - and I’m the young one at the church - we don’t feel like we can climb that ladder, 12 to 15 feet, anymore,” Spurling said. 

Nolan, oftentimes with the help of Sophie, volunteered to keep the tradition going, a task he faithfully performed over the past few years. 

“So we’re going to have to have some help now,” Spurling said.

Following the service, the funeral procession detoured past the SHS soccer field. A crowd turned out, in person, some bundled in blankets, to line the parking lot and let the family know that help is here.