“He” was a 3 sport, 4 year letterman in high school and went to college on a football scholarship. When the coaches didn’t like his rodeo habit he logically transferred to more Ag friendly Washington State College in Pullman. He rode bulls & bareback horses and also Dogged steers. The latter is now called Steer Wrestling.
“She” showed horses competitively around the West and showed the Washington State Horsemen Inc. Western Pleasure Champion “Sonny Boy” while still in high school. She went to WSC in Pullman for their well known horse program. While the details are sketchy, allegedly and conveniently “she” needed a ride home and “he” just happened to have a car.
Dave and Shirley Parker were married in the fall of ‘57 and then went to Fort Knox, KY where Dave began his two year stint in the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant in Armor. They moved on to Fort Hood, TX and at Dave’s discharge returned to the Yakima Valley in WA, where Dave worked with his parents on their dairy farm. After a few visits to Wallowa County to see Dave’s Cousin and Uncle (Ed and Don Wallace who were then ranching on Kuhn Ridge North of Enterprise) a decision was made to relocate the young Parker family of 2 daughters (then 20 months and 2 months) to Wallowa County.
Arriving in the fall of 1960 to begin Highivew Ranch with Shirley’s parents Pete & Ingrid Peters. Ingrid was concerned that some of the ranches being scouted were not only far from town but without electricity or phones. Not only that, but mud and snow sometimes closed the roads for weeks at a time. With concern for such young children, Highview Ranch was established in Nov. 1960 on the Homer Eads place on Alder Slope just 3 miles from town. Unfortunately, there was no running water, electricity, phone, or a livable house!! It also gets so muddy “The Slope” is often referred to as “Alder Slop” The first winter they rented in town but when milder weather hit they moved with the young girls out to the ranch and lived in a one room shed until they could finish a small house just in time for the winter of ‘61. A son was born that next spring so the accommodations couldn’t have been all that bad. Highview Ranch was started with commercial yet purebred Herefords. Wallowa County was then known world-wide for its quality and perhaps the highest concentration of Hereford breeders in the US. The Parker’s also had a few sheep.
Busy raising a family and expanding the ranch to neighboring properties purchased from Floyd Fletcher and Lawrence Rowe they put their rodeo and horse showing roots on hold, except occasionally with the local Jaycee’s rodeo and the Wrangler Horse Shows. Both actively involved in the local Wranglers horse club, Dave was their President in ‘70. Dave was honored by the Jaycees as their Young Farmer of the Year in “68 and since he is still involved in ranching he must have been a good choice.
Cattle and family have dominated their lives together for more than half a century. They were a partnership both in the ranch and in life helping each other along the way. Shortly after starting the ranch they launched into a series of bold and innovative management moves. In ‘67 they were among the first locally to crossbreed and commercially use Artificial Insemination for beef cows. The result of those first A.I. mating’s were the highest selling steers (@33.10) & heifers (@29.90) at the ‘69 annual Stockgrowers Labor Day Sale with crossbred Charolais. The next year in ‘70 Dave chaired the annual Labor Day Sale while Shirley helped the CowBelles with the big steak feed that seemingly fed half the town people every year too.
In ‘67 Dave became a local Rep for American Breeders Service becoming a Progeny Test Herd not only for Hereford & Angus but the new breeds being imported: Charolais, Limousin, Tarentaise, Beef Brown Swiss (now known as Braunvieh), Norwegian Red, and a couple of Italian breeds no one could pronounce–Romagnola, and Marchigiana. They even had a few top Hereford cows special mated on contract to produce bulls for ABS. Along the way Dave bred many cows for others too using a few more new breeds: Simmental, Gelbvieh, and Maine Anjou for the likes of C&B Livestock, Wolfe Ranch, and Dr. Harley Scholz. Dave even bred a few horses with frozen semen in the early 70’s, along with a few milk cows, and even some Watusi for Steve Allison. He was named the ABS Oregon Genetic Engineer of the year in ‘74 and still continues to be a Rep. for ABS today.
In‘71 they focused on breeding Registered Limousin for their own operation and by the mid 80’s were one of the largest and most respected Limousin breeders in the West. Dave was President of the N.W. Limousin Association in ‘80. Highview Ranch exhibited Limousin cattle thru out the NW earning many championships and premier breeder awards. Other progressive practices started in the 60’s and early 70’s were: performance testing, de-worming, and synchronization trials run with the likes of OSU, ABS, UpJohn, & The Ceral Co. Under Shirley’s ever watchful eye and extremely detailed records they were some of the first in the nation to turn weights into a national data base for the eventual calculation and establishment of EPD’s. The Parker’s retained ownership of their fed cattle as far back as the 60’s and fed for a branded beef program in the 80’s.
Intensive grazing management, high tensile electric smooth wire fence (among the first built locally by Harold Hartley), and portable poly wire became part of the routine all which allowed them to increase productivity and extend the grazing season. This new style of grazing management evolved slowly but out of necessity back in 1980 before most ranchers in the US had ever heard of it. It became a way of life rather than just a management objective.
Along the way Dave helped the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Posse Search and Rescue serving as its Captain in ‘78. Dave and Shirley were named honorary FFA Chapter Farmers having both daughters receive their American Farmer Degrees and a son who was a Star State Farmer Nominee. Thru the FFA’s Work Experience Abroad program the Parker’s hosted two French exchanges while one daughter worked in France and the other in Ireland. Since moving to Enterprise Dave & Shirley have been very active in the Community Congregational Church.
Dave and Shirley attended many Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) State Conventions & were active locally. Dave Served as the Stockgrowers President in 1985-‘86 & was named Cattlemen of the Year in ‘83. Shirley was active and served as an officer in the CowBelles being named the Cattle Woman of the year in ‘97. Highview Ranch was named the Grassman of the Year in ‘01
Of all their accomplishments they are most proud of their family. Carol Jackson, her husband Jerry, daughters Julie & Brooke of Staples, MN where Carol is the Coordinator of Customer Relations for a National Cooperative Buying Company, Doreen Parker-McNeill, her husband Curtis, and son Charlie (the 2007 Jr. North American Two-dog Sprint Mushing Champion, sponsored by Highview Ranch) of North Pole, AK. Doreen is a Wildlife Biologist for the State of Alaska. Jeff lives in Enterprise, where he leases and operates Highview Ranch continuing the tide of change having entirely converted the cow herd to Angus. While Dave and Shirley enjoy traveling, they still reside at the ranch, own a few cows, and help where they can. The 2008 Honorary Stockgrowers are Dave & Shirley Parker of Enterprise.