Parker was born on a farm in Shelby County, Indiana, and was raised eating a typical farm diet of meat and starch. She attended Franklin High School, then took classes at Franklin College to obtain a teaching certificate. Parker taught at a two-room schoolhouse in Smithland, Indiana, for 2 years, until she married her next-door neighbor, Earl Parker, on 12 April 1913. Earl died on February 23, 1939. They had two sons, Clifford and Earl Jr., both of whom she outlived. At the time of her death, she had at least five grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and 13 great-great-grandchildren.
Parker lived alone on a farm on Blueridge Road after her husband had died when she was 45. She remained there until age 100, when, still in very strong health, she moved in with one of her sons. One winter night, she was left alone while her son and his wife went to a basketball game. When they returned, she was in the backyard, unconscious, in the snow, and visible in the poor light only because she was wearing her favorite red sweater. Her family feared her death, but medics arrived, and she made a full recovery except for only mild injuries. Afterward, her family decided that she needed to move to a nursing home.
Until her death, Parker lived at Heritage House Convalescent Center, a retirement community in Shelbyville, Indiana. In April 2007, at the age of 114, she met with the second-oldest Indiana inhabitant and then-fifth-oldest living person in the world, Bertha Fry. Fry, who lived in Muncie, Indiana, was 113 at the time, which set the highest combined age for a meeting of two supercentenarians, at 227 years and 142 days. Parker lived in the same home as Sandy Allen, the tallest living woman verified by Guinness World Records, until Allen’s death on 13 August 2008.
Parker enjoyed reading and reciting poetry, especially the works of James Whitcomb Riley, and according to family liked to quote his poetry to visitors. She read the newspaper every day, enjoyed cards from well-wishers, and often sent autographs to people asking for them. In 2007, she received a letter from President George W. Bush on her 114th birthday, who thanked her for “sharing her wisdom and experiences” with younger generations. Also at that time, she was given the key to the city of Shelbyville from the Mayor and was visited by the state Governor and Senator.
The Heritage House Convalescent Center planned two separate birthday parties to celebrate her 115th birthday. At each one, they released 115 multicolored balloons, because she enjoyed watching balloons float into the sky. Parker died at a nursing home in Indiana, on 26 November 2008, at age 115 years, 220 days. She was buried in Shelbyville’s Miller Cemetery.