East County News Service
Updated with funeral and memorial information added.
May 27, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Donald “Don” Parent, long-time Public Affairs Manager for SDG&E and an active participant in many local business and community organizations, died May 25 after a three-year battle with prostate cancer.
“Everyone who knew Don loved him. He was unfailingly kind, ever ready to help, and could always make you laugh,” his family posted on his Facebook page, voicing gratitude for many heartfelt messages received. “They are testament to the man he was, and of how many people he touched.”
Parent passed away at his home, surrounded by his two sons, La Mesa Councilman Colin Parent and Evan Parent, and his longtime fiancée, Rhonda James. “Until the last he kept his affability, his easy sense of humor, and a determination to extract as much from life as it has to offer,” the family’s message states.
Parent served as Public Affairs Manager for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) for 45 years, from 1971 to 2016, after studying at San Diego State University.
He served on the board of directors for the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce. He was also an active volunteer with St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center, which serves developmentally disabled adults. Thee, he chaired St. Madeleine’s Consumer Appreciation Celebration honoring accomplishments of the facility’s students. He also served as an announcer for Lakeside’s Western Days, among his many community endeavors.
“Don was a bright light on the East County Chamber of Commerce Board. His humor and insight added so much. I feel privileged to have known him,” Nancy Dennison, who served on the Chamber’s board for 22 years, posted on Facebook.
Helix Water Board member Kathleen Coates Hedberg recalls Parent as a “great friend, neighbor and colleague” whom she describes as “the best representative for SDG&E…always at the table and in the trenches for East County. He enjoyed life. He will be missed by many.”
Debra Emerson, Chief Executive Officer of St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center, wrote, “Some people come into our lives and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same without them. I am sorry for all our loss. He was a wonderful person and friend.”
The Lakeside Chamber of Commerce, in an e-newsletter to members, recalled Parent as an “amazing citizen,” adding that as a director, “Don brought integrity, common sense and sound advice to our board. He enjoyed being an announcer at our Western Days Parade each year. Don happily supported chamber events and his humor at our networking events will be greatly missed.”
East County Style posted a video memoir with this message, ”Thank you for the love and memories you leave with us, Don Parent.”
The funeral mass for Donald Parent will be at 10 a/m/ on July 10, 2020.
Everyone is welcome to view the live streaming of the service on the El Cajon Mortuary’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ElCajonMortuary.
In the interest of safety during the ongoing pandemic, only a handful of family members are invited to attend the funeral in-person.
Celebration of Life: The family plans to host a celebration of life Memorial Day weekend of 2021. That will be an opportunity for people to meet again in person, to share stories, and to remember what we loved about him. While we are sad we cannot meet together now, we can look forward to doing so in the future.
Donations: The family suggests memorial contributions be sent to St. Madeleine Sophie's Center: https://stmsc.org/donation-form.
Online Memorial: You may also share memories and photos at the online memorial located at https://www.dignitymemorial.com/…/el-…/donald-parent-9198872.