After 50 Years At Same Stone County Job, Man Still Loves His Work

A South Mississippi man says he loves his job so much that he's still working 25 years after he could have retired. M.T. Parker started as an arson investigator with Mississippi Forestry Commission 50 years ago and after a half century, his coworkers say he hasn't lost a step.

Not too many people here can say they were around back 1954 when M.T. Parker went to work for the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

Richard Tice oversees the Southeast district. "As far as I know he's the only employee with the Forestry Commission that has ever put in 50 years and is still working. This is unusual for somebody to stay with one agency or with the state or any job for 50 years."

Parker has spent the past five decades collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and helping bring arsonists to justice. No wonder his co-workers had such a difficult time keeping a roast in his honor a secret.

"When we were trying to plan this surprise event for him, it was hard keeping it from him," said forester Todd Matthews. "He knew something was going on. He was popping in and out of my office yesterday asking a lot of questions. He's a pretty sharp guy."

At 75-years-old the sharp guy puts in more hours than most employees half his age.

M.T. Parker said he's "tried to teach them all the things that I've been taught and some of the experiences that I've had that will make their life a lot better."

Parker said he was deeply touched by the outpouring of love and support but as far as his future retirement plans, he's still undecided.

"I guess I will. I enjoy what I do. This has really slipped up on me. I've been so busy I hadn't paid attention to my time that I've gotten here in 50 years."

M.T. Parker is celebrating another milestone this year. In November he and his wife Inez will mark their 50th wedding anniversary.

by Danielle Thomas