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SAN DIEGO -- Robert Miles Parker, founder of the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO), died during the early morning hours of Wednesday, April 18, his longtime partner David Vanleer said.
Parker was 73 years old.
According to SOHO's history archive, the organization's founding is rooted in Parker's campaign to save the Sherman-Gilbert House, a Stick Eastlake style home, located at 139 Fir St., built during the Victorian period.
The house faced demolition until Parker posted a "Save This House" sign in front of it, and included his phone number. Parker told SOHO that he recalls that "a billion people called" after he posted the sign. "I had no plans for that ... evidently, a whole lot of people felt the way I did."
Shortly after, the first meeting of SOHO was held in January 1969, and the organization continues to thrive today.
In an article by SOHO, Parker credited his caring for his neighborhood and city to his Southern upbringing. "I was born in the South, of a billion generations of Southerners," Parker said.
He spoke about being taught to respect country, society, and community, but to do things for the community. "I grew up believing, still, that we have an obligation to take care of our place. We have to make it better. We have to do that...I just think it is my duty to do my job. And SOHO was my job!"
Besides his passionate concern for neighborhoods, Parker was a renowned artist, whose drawings were published in numerous magazines and newspapers, including "San Diego Magazine," "Sacramento Magazine," and the "New York Times." His work was also published in books, such as "Images of American Architecture," "L.A.," and "Upper West Side: New York."
His work also got him two appearances on the "Today Show with Barbara Walters," SOHO said.
Parker was also an avid traveler telling his SOHO colleagues: "My plan was to always travel. I could never get a normal job; I just couldn't be structured."
Parker had just returned from hitchhiking around Europe when he heard of the plans to demolish the Sherman-Gilbert House.
While not traveling, creating art, or working on his other endeavors, Parker continued to fight for preservation for most of his life, which earned him SOHO's 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award.
"An inspiring leader with an artist's flair, he achieved many daring things those first years," the citation on the award read. "He is being awarded especially for the bold gesture that created SOHO and began its four decades of preserving San Diego's heritage."
Upon his death, SOHO said, "We're proud to carry on the battle for you -- the battle you so passionately fought. You inspired us all."
Friends, supporters, and SOHO members expressed their thoughts on Parker's death on SOHO's Facebook page.
Robin Floyd: "Oh I am so sad to see this post today. My mom was one of the people sitting in the living room in the early days-and my young life and attitude in regards to community involvement was certainly influenced because of her involvement."
Nanette Wiser: "He will be missed. I met him when I worked at San Diego Magazine, a true visionary and wonderful man. Lucky to have known him."
Irma Cantu Jones: "I remember going to parties at his beautiful Victorian home and at the Sherman Gilbert house when Bob Glaudini and Nina were living there. His talent and his passion were and continue to be such a great gift to our city. I am grateful to SOHO for all you do to continue his mission in San Diego."
Matthew MacGibbon: "I only knew Miles for about ten years, and never in relation to this organization, but he was one of the most unique people I think I'll ever know. Im definitely lucky to have known him."
Information about plans for a memorial service will be announced when they are known.