Remembering John Parr
The obituary for John Parr that was printed in The Ottawa Citizen newspaper on 10 January, 2001.
PARR, John Howard
Monday, January 8, 2001, John Howard Parr age 36. Beloved husband of Karen Mary Cartlidge. Dear son of Anne and Howard Parr. Dear brother of Bill (Jan), Kathy (Gord Deck), Jim (Suzy) and Margaret. Friends may pay respects at the Kelly Funeral Home, 3000 Woodroffe Avenue (south of Fallowfield Road) Thursday, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Funeral service Friday in the chapel at 10 a.m. In memoriam donations to the University Of Ottawa Heart Institute appreciated.
Kelly Funeral Homes
At 1100h on Monday, 08 January, 2001, Nortel Networks lost a Friend: John Parr passed away while working at his desk. John had been part of the Nortel Networks family since his graduation from University of Regina in 1986. At thirty-six years of age, John was wise beyond his years and highly respected by everyone he worked with. John was an unusual man and made key contributions to our work environment at Nortel Networks that should be remembered.
John got his start at Nortel Networks working in BNR IT (Division 4). He never left the field of Information Technology and greatly contributed to the Intranet environment we now take for granted. John was a key contributor to a number of IS products and services, including:
John was never the only person involved in a new initiative, and he never tried to pat himself on the back or receive recognition for his efforts; rather, he always sought to see those around him recognized for what was accomplished. Many of us at Nortel Networks remember working to see Internet-based technologies introduced within the Corporation, but what made John’s contribution different was his unflagging determination to legitimize skunk-works projects that had sprung up.
When John was promoted into management, he was the Corporation’s youngest D‑Level manager at that time. There was good reason for this, and his ability to bring diverse groups of individuals together into coherent teams was an important one.
John made a difference outside the workplace too. He was very active in Ottawa’s amateur theatrical community and he always “had a life”, even while contributing greatly to Nortel Networks. John didn’t hesitate to send staff home when they stayed too late, but he was also always quick to call in staff (and come in himself) when the work needed to be done. His sense of life-balance helped everyone around him maintain a better perspective too.
John challenged us to be better people, better employees and managers and Nortel Networks a better place to live and work. There are others like John here at Nortel Networks, but not enough of them.
To paraphrase Charles Dickens, from A Christmas Carol: John was “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old City knew…”. May we all be renewed by his memory.
For a number of years, John appeared in Ottawa's Lakeside Players annual Christmas Pantomime. Our family enjoyed going to see John each year, and my children still talk about some of the productions in which John appeared. The attached photo is one of the most memorable: John (on the left) playing one of the nasty step-sisters in the Christmas 1995 production of Cinderella. A framed copy of this photo was prominently displayed on John's desk at Nortel, from 1996 until his death.