James H. Parker was a national champion in rowing (1935; eight oared), general manager of the NYAC and a 1985 Hall of Fame Inductee.
Parker was a member of the NYAC’s 1935 national championship eight-oared team, who subsequently lost in the Olympic trials to the University of Washington. That team went on to win the gold medal at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, and is the subject of the book The Boys in the Boat.
In the 1940s, the NYAC was on the brink of financial collapse. After World War II, the Club was behind on mortgage payments and revenue was dwindling. Outside consultants advised the Board of Governors to sell Travers Island in order to secure the City House. Rather than give in, President Frank Sieverman resolved to fight. He instructed all departments to operate in the black and appealed to wealthy members to help pay off the Club’s debts. His most prescient move, however, was the hiring of Jim Parker as Travers Island Manager.
Parker was instrumental in stabilizing the Club’s finances and increasing revenue. Before he became Manager, Travers Island was hemorrhaging money. Not only did Parker stop the bleeding, he turned Travers Island into a revenue generating machine. According to Sieverman, “[Parker] suggested how many of the Travers Island operations could be tightened; and that we should expand those operations which would not only be attractive to our members and create new memberships, but also produce new operating net income. A swimming pool, for example, to be built as soon as finances permitted, would be such an attraction. Another Parker suggestion which we could put into effect at one was to promote outside parties at Travers Island…”
“It was Jim Parker’s management skills and his contagious enthusiasm about Travers Island that,” allowed the Club to keep its Westchester home.
Parker passed away February 20th, 1982.