It’s never easy writing posts like this.
Kevin Parker, otherwise known as Jack Trades to many, passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. I was lucky to have known him, and to see different sides of him, for more than a decade.
For those who didn’t know him, his magical way of connecting to people on so many levels isn’t easily explained. For those who did know him, you more than likely realize that magic.
As I go further into this post, I’ll just be calling him Trades – as it what makes the most sense.
My history goes back to a small, semi-dark Legion Hall in Binghamton. It was the first time I had been to any sort of wrestling in years and I wanted new things to photograph. So a couple of us went to watch some independent wrestling that night.
One of the first things we noticed was this crazy guy running all over the place and doing just about everything. He was at ringside grabbing gear, he was in the right spots to make sure people were safe, and he would just pop up in random spots.
And people seemed to really know who he was.
On the back of his 2CW shirt, it said “Trades.”
I commented to my friend… who the hell is this guy and what’s his deal?We joked about that until we finally figured it out … ohhhhhh, he was a jack of all trades. Then we also realized that was his “gimmick” or his “ring name.”
It was the epitome of independent wrestling. I loved it. We continued to go to 2CW shows and slowly but surely I had the chance to meet, talk to, and befriend Trades (as many did).
But more than that, over the next decade or so, I had the chance to see the man Trades was. I remember one time he said so many people will only know him as Jack Trades – and that he was fine with that. I think so many people got to see him well beyond that and that’s a good thing.
The reality was he wasn’t a walking gimmick who ran around the ring or took a bump at times. He was so much more. He was a genuine and likable guy, who not only was good at what he did within the wrestling world, but was also a true person outside of it. I base that, of course, on my personal interactions and observations, but also on the words and actions of others when it came to Trades.
He connected with people, no matter who you were. That’s a special trait to have. It’s not often somebody can connect on so many different levels with a lot of people. He did it and he did it well. Not only that, but so many generations. He went back to college later in life and seemingly connected with college kids just as easily as he would people in their 40s and 50s.
I consider myself lucky to have gotten to see and know Trades beyond the ring and in different settings. I can say one time that I met him in the Utica area where he was one of the main cooks at this one restaurant – he made me one of the best hamburgers I’ve ever eaten. That just shows the variety of talents he had — indeed a Jack of all trades!
I was lucky enough to see him perform at an open mic night, also in Utica, when he told a 10-minute powerful life story about how he almost lost a battle to drugs (blog post/video about that is linked up below).
Heck, three of us and Trades were inducted into the “pro wrestling fan hall of fame” when we went and watched former ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta’s live show about his career.
There are photos I took of him during 2CW days that I still see people posting. One of them is connected with this post as it’s one of the coolest wrestling photos I’ve taken. I feel it truly captures life in wrestling.
In recent years, through the positive side of social media, I had the chance to watch him have such a positive outlook on life and impact on other people. His travel adventures, banter, or doing magic, shows at libraries and other ways to give back. He had a zest for life and shared that feeling with so many others.
Rest easy, my friend. You’ll be missed.
More reading about Trades on my blog:
2CW: JACK (OF ALL) TRADES
From June 13, 2016 (from the 2CW magazine): https://hoohaa.com/?p=10734
A STORY MANY SHOULD HEAR
From July 3, 2012: https://hoohaa.com/?p=4011
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