Department of Sociology

Dr William Parker Frisbie, September 5, 1940 - February 12, 2018

Wed, February 14, 2018
Dr William Parker Frisbie, September 5, 1940 - February 12, 2018
Dr. William Parker Frisbie

Dr. William Parker Frisbie

September 5, 1940 ~ February 12, 2018 (age 77)

Dr. William Parker Frisbie, a renowned University of Texas professor and genuine cowboy, peacefully entered his rest at age 77 on February 12 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

He is survived by wife Elaine (Sinast) Frisbie, son Bill Frisbie, daughter Erin (Frisbie) McKowen, and son-in-law Grif McKowen; granddaughters Chandler and Darby Frisbie, Lauren, Lindsay and Kathryn McKowen. He is preceded by parents James Otto Frisbie and Eva (Parker) Frisbie, and by the maternal grandparents he adored, W.H & Rosa Parker.

Parker is widely regarded as a preeminent demographer and sociologist, but his professional and personal accomplishments, his work ethic, his commitment to excellence, honesty and integrity, reflect his ranching heritage. He was born in Yorktown, Texas on September 5, 1940.  He was a 1958 graduate of Yorktown High School before marrying his high school sweetheart on August 30, 1959.

Parker operated a working ranch, and helped raise two children, while obtaining his B.A. in Sociology from Southwest Texas State University in 1968. Remarkably, he received his M.A. and Ph.D from The University of North Carolina in 3.5 years.  In August, 1972, Parker began a lifelong career at Texas. He achieved the rank of Professor (1985) and was Director of The University of Texas’ Population Research Center from 1993-95. He also served as Chair of the Department of Sociology.

During nearly four decades, Parker obtained more than $4 million in grants – an amount almost unprecedented in social sciences – from the National Institute of Health. He was frequently published in our nation’s top scientific journals and, in fact, published more than 80 studies on the demography of racial minorities. 

Though colleagues described Parker’s stature as iconic, he invariably lauded the accomplishments of students rather than his own merits. He guided countless students through their dissertations and on into distinguished careers in academia and population research.

Parker retired from Texas in 2008. That year, an endowment called the W. Parker Frisbie Fund for Excellence was established to support outstanding faculty and graduate students with the Population Research Center.  In 2010, Parker received the Pro Bene Meritis Award from The University of Texas, the highest award conferred by the College of Liberal Arts.  He maintained his relationship with The University of Texas as Professor Emeritus for the rest of his life.

At his core, Parker Frisbie was a cowboy. In the words of a colleague: “His cowboy boots and hat signal a very important aspect of Parker’s identity – he is a Son of Texas.” Above all, Parker Frisbie’s primary passion and devotion was his wife, children and grandchildren.

The family is sincerely grateful for all expressions of love and support. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to caregivers, Linda, Lonnie and Pearl, during his final earthly days.

Memorial gifts are encouraged for the Yorktown Fire Department, Yorktown EMS, the W. Parker Frisbie Fund for Excellence (payable to The University of Texas at Austin, Population Research Center – Frisbie Fund, 305 E, 23rd Street, Stop G1800, Austin TX, 78712), or for the American Parkinson Disease Association.

Visitation will be held 5-7 pm, Friday at Massey Funeral Home, 779 N. Riedel Street, in Yorktown, Texas.  Funeral service is scheduled for 11 am, Saturday, February 17 at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 234 Gohmert Street, Yorktown, Texas. Interment will follow at Westside Cemetery.

You are invited to sign the online guestbook at

Arrangements made by Massey Funeral Home Yorktown, TX 361-564-2900.

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  • Department of Sociology

    The University of Texas at Austin
    305 E 23rd St, A1700
    RLP 3.306
    Austin, TX 78712-1086