John Parent, planning commissioner, business owner and involved in the March Presidents, dies at 77 |

John Parent, planning commissioner, business owner and involved in the March Presidents, dies at 77

From left, Niel Locke and John Parent served as grand marshals at the 2018 Nevada City Mardi Gras parade. Todd Wahoske is standing.
Submitted to The Union

You’d always see John Douglas Parent at the party.

He’d be there, likely with Niel Locke and Todd Wahoske, with his larger-than-life personality and perhaps helping serve drinks from the bar.

Known as a business owner, member of the Nevada City Planning Commission and for portraying James Buchanan in the Famous Marching Presidents, Parent died Monday. He was 77.

“Whenever there was a party, you would always see them at that event,” said Paul Matson, a former Nevada City councilman and mayor. “He will definitely be missed.”

Locke, who met Parent in 1973 and married him in 2013, said it was love at first sight. He figured they might have had a “weekend fling.”

“Something was going to happen,” Locke said. “It turned into a 46-year weekend fling. We’d hoped for 50.”

Wahoske, who in 2000 entered the lives of Parent and Locke, said they might not have attended every party, though Parent did enjoy his nightly cocktails.

He also enjoyed Broad Street, where he had a number of businesses over the years.

Parent and Locke owned “Parent and Locke Antiques,” and later became owners of “Java John’s.” Parent served for 12 years on Nevada City’s Planning Commission and was a key player in the creation of Victorian Christmas, his obituary states (See page A7) .

Locke said people likely will recall Parent’s laugh.

“He could be in a room full of people and just laugh and everyone would know he was there,” he said.

R.L. Crabb, The Union’s cartoonist, said he didn’t know Parent well, though they both were involved in the Famous Marching Presidents.

“He was just a wonderful, sweet, happy man who did a lot for the community,” Crabb added.

Councilman David Parker said he asked Parent to join the Famous Marching Presidents as James Buchanan, a role he played for about a decade.

“He’s such a vibrant human being and I knew he’d be a great choice for our organization and I was absolutely right,” Parker said.

Parent’s community involvement extended to the board of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, where he helped create the criteria for awards the organization gave, said Cathy Whittlesey, the chamber’s executive director.

Parent and Locke served as grand marshals of the 2018 Mardi Gras parade.

“He loved Nevada City,” Whittlesey said. “Always smiling, positive, had good spirit. He was really involved in the spirit of Nevada City.”

Parent was a mentor to youth, many of them employees of Java John’s. Parent and Locke taught the value of human kindness, manners and attention to detail. Many former employees have told Parent how that guidance shaped their lives, the obituary states.

According to Parent’s Facebook page, he died at 4:44 p.m. Monday in the living room of his home as a Neil Diamond song played. The post is written as if Parent wrote it.

“I am no longer in pain or suffering on this beautiful warm, sunny and breezy summer afternoon,” it states. “I will never forget you. I will love you and remember you forever.”

A commemoration of life is being planned, though no date has been set. It will start at Java John’s and include Golden Era before moving to the Mine Shaft Saloon.

“Just make it more of a fun time instead of a sad event,” Wahoske said. “He just really loved life.”

To contact City Editor Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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