All in the family: What one couple is doing to be closer to ‘home’
by WILLIAM WRIGHT
Nov 13, 2013 | 1260 views | 0 0 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A close-knit family
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DAVID AND VALERIE PARKER, top left, enjoy their multilevel house with its cathedral ceilings, huge living rooms and bedrooms, updated kitchen and panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains. But the distance between them and their daughters has given the Cleveland couple second thoughts on what makes a house a home. Their goal is to sell their house and move closer to their loved ones. Banner photo, WILLIAM WRIGHT


David and Valerie Parker can stand in their living room, hand in hand, and watch a picturesque sunrise over the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. They can bask in the beauty of nature’s majesty — birds singing, trees bursting with fall colors in a secluded rural area.

Their multilevel house with its 9-foot cathedral ceilings, three huge bedrooms, three full baths and two half baths could easily be considered the ideal place to raise a family.

But David and Valerie, married 45 years, have raised their two children. Their daughters, Denise and Beverly, are grown and living in Arizona. For this close-knit couple, even the convenience of a luxury house built in a country club subdivision, only minutes away from shopping malls and restaurants, cannot compare to the appeal of living closer to their daughters and enjoying what makes their house a home.

As they sat in their spacious living room near a beautiful fireplace, David and Valerie spoke about life in New Castle Upon Tyne in North East England and what ultimately brought them to America. Ready for a change in 1969, the couple read in the London Times about a job opportunity in America with Westinghouse Electric.

David applied for the position and got it. The family moved to Philadelphia in February 1970, where David worked for Westinghouse Electric as a design engineer, providing very well for his family.

“We made equipment for power stations,” David said.

After years in Philadelphia, the company relocated them to North Carolina and later to Florida where the skilled design engineer received the 1996 Baudry-Bryant Award for the Most Meritorious Patent of the Gas Turbine Combustor, including a 1993 award in recognition of five more U.S. patents issued to the corporation as a result of inventions he created and developed for Westinghouse. After 23 years in Florida, however, David and the family decided to move out of The Sunshine State.

“We didn’t want to stay in Orlando once I retired,” David explained. “It was getting really busy down there and we had had enough of the heat and humidity. It was always humid there.”

“And I couldn’t deal with the cold,” Valerie added. “I didn’t want to go back North because I’m not good in the really cold. So this was as far north as I wanted to go. We had been in Kentucky but it was too cold. David and the girls researched the areas. He gave them an idea of where he would like to be. He likes the mountains. Then Denise and I looked online at places and houses. Cleveland was one place and we looked at Athens. So we came up here to look around. ”

Although the family was accustomed to much larger metro areas, they found Cleveland to be a community they could get acclimated to with its pleasant weather and good-natured people. Even better, they found a house they felt they could truly call their home.

“This house is private. It has mountain views from all the bedrooms and the living room,” Valerie said. “It has plenty of room. The downstairs could be used as a wonderful playroom for kids. It’s a very nice house.”

As the years rolled on, however, their daughters found more of what they were looking for in Arizona, leaving their parents with less of what they felt made it a home.

“Beverly moved to Arizona in March — right before David had his surgery,” Valerie explained. “Denise moved out there a year before — in February 2012. They live together.”

To add to the family’s concerns, David had to have quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery in April. The surgery and recovery left the English couple wondering how they would make it if matters got any worse, being so far away from their family in New Castle and their daughters in Fountain Hills, Ariz.

“I feel a need to be closer to our girls,” Valerie confessed. “Also David is legally blind. So I’m the sole driver. I just need a little help from my family. All of our friends are nice and willing to help, but we feel family needs to be involved as well. David has wanted to go to Arizona for a long time. But Arizona takes three days to drive and it’s more expensive to fly. I miss my girls. We’ve always been a close family.”

David agreed, adding, “It would be nice to have them within an easy driving distance. That way if we do need some help for some reason they could help us out. If Valerie were to get ill for a while, I can’t drive. It would be difficult for us. I’ve always liked to travel places. The girls have traveled all over Europe, South Africa — they’ve been to South America — Ecuador.”

The Parkers said their goal is to sell their Cleveland home and move to Arizona to be with their daughters.

“We’ve put the price well below its appraisal,” Valerie said. “We just love the view. It’s a nice location. I like the high ceilings and it’s just wonderful to sit out on the deck in the evenings. But I do miss my girls, and I want to be closer to them.”

“We both do,” David said. “It’s not about the house. The house is great! This is about family.”