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As It Was: Man Seeking Inheritance Dies Before His Time

Roy Parker, a longtime mill operator in Selma, Ore., had a hard time collecting an inheritance because the army believed he had died when his troop ship blew up and killed everyone aboard at the start of World War I.  Parker was listed among the dead even though he had arrived too late to board the ship.

After the war, Parker lost track of his father and siblings, despite many years of trying to find them.  Suspecting that he might have relatives in Southern Oregon, he moved to Selma in 1942.

It wasn’t until 1963, when he was 73 years old, that Parker found out he had a half-brother living in nearby Grants Pass.  Soon after, he learned that 40 years earlier his grandfather had bequeathed him $50,000 and 80 acres of oil-rich land in Michigan.  

Parker tried to collect his inheritance, but no one would believe he could return from the grave after 40 years.  This might have depressed another man, but Parker just shrugged his shoulders and said to his wife, “We’re not wanting for anything, are we Mary?”  

For a dead man, he seemed to be enjoying life.  

Source: O'Harra, Marjorie. "Inheritance Rumor Spurs Man To Declare Self Alive." The Sacramento Bee, 16 Aug. 1970, p. B5.

Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management.