Remembering Denny Parker, Founder of GIS World Inc.

February 3, 2023

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If you have been in the GIS industry since the "early days," you will remember H. Dennison Parker (or "Denny"), the founder of GIS World, Inc. He passed away on Jan. 15 in Lake Wales, FL, after a battle with cancer. 


Denny was instrumental in educating many about GIS through the magazine and company he founded. The magazine started out as a little newsletter (which included a survey of the capabilities of the handful of GIS software products available at the time) and was greeted with enthusiasm by the fledgling industry in 1988 when the first edition hit folks' mailboxes. I cherished my copy! The little newsletter quickly turned into a four-color magazine supported eventually by a company of about 30 people in Ft. Collins, CO. I joined the company in 1992 to help launch the company's second magazine, Business Geographics. At its heyday, the company was producing three print magazines, organizing two annual conferences and producing books about all things geospatial. It was so fun and exciting to be at the epicenter of the little company that was at the epicenter of an industry experiencing phenomenal growth. Denny was the engine behind all the risk-taking and chutzpah needed to make something like that happen.

 He was born in Florida in 1941 where he spent his youth. He first attended Georgia Tech (studying electrical engineering), but eventually made his way to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO where he finished his bachelor's degree and received his Ph.D. in remote sensing. (He described his research as wandering around cold mountains behind mule deer trying to figure out if they emitted enough of a heat signature to be detectable remotely. The short answer was "no, they're well-insulated" but his dissertation was referenced for many years by numerous scientists.) He went on to work for various companies and agencies before founding GIS World.

 Denny sold GIS World to Pearson (a UK publishing company) in 1995 and left the company in 1996. He was way too independent of a person to be able to work under the strictures of the folks in England, although he did try. We went on to help start Directions Magazine with Scott and Jane Elliott, an experience we enjoyed very much, and I even worked for the company for a few years.

Denny continued to be a valued friend and colleague over the years. We have a brilliant and beautiful daughter, Nissa Jane Parker, who is turning 27 this year! He will be missed by all including his other two children (who also worked at GIS World at various times), Kim Shattell and Jeff Parker, and his loving companion Gerri Sage. A celebration of his life will be held on Feb. 25 in Winter Haven, FL. 


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