Richard Bordeaux Parker was born on July 3, 1923, in the Philippines where his father was stationed in the United States Army. He earned a Bachelors of Science in General Science and a Masters of Science in Citizenship Education from Kansas State University. After serving as an infantry soldier during World War II, Parker joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1949. His first tour was spent in Sydney, Australia. He then focused his career on the Middle East, holding a number of posts in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. In addition, Parker served as ambassador to Algeria (1974-1977), Lebanon (1977), and Morocco (1978-1979.)
Fluent in Arabic, he has written/edited seven books to date on subjects concerning the Middle East. He retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 1981 and became the editor of, The Middle East Journal, from 1981 through 1987. In addition to his diplomatic career, Parker taught at the University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins University, and Lawrence University. He served as the first president of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training from 1986-1989. He is also a member of several organizations including the Advisory Council on Near East Studies at Princeton University, the American Academy of Diplomacy, the Cosmos Club, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Middle East Institute. In June, 2004, he received the American Foreign Service Association's lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy award. Richard B. Parker is married with four children and lives in Washington, D.C.