By Megan Brown
Jan. 14, 2015
Robert Maillet stood out at the Mattatal—Varner Funeral Home in Truro, N.S.
No wonder, he’s seven-feet-tall. And famous.
Maillet has acted alongside Robert Downey Jr. in the movie Sherlock Holmes and is known for his roles in the movies Immortals, Pacific Rim and Hercules. He is also known for his wrestling career. He has wrestled under the names Goliath El Gigante, The Interrogator and Kurrgan.
Maillet was in Truro on Jan. 2 with his daughter Mekedess, who stands at about four-feet-tall, to pay their respects to Maillet’s good friend and someone who was like an uncle to Mekedess, Frank Parker.
They weren’t alone.
For the people who didn’t know Frank, he was an every-day husband and dad. For his friends, family, wrestlers and co-workers, he was much more.
Francis “Frankie” Thomas Parker always had a story to tell, any story that could relate to someone or a story that could take their terrible day and make it better.
Parker was born on March 7, 1960 and was raised in Truro, N.S. He and his wife Karen have been happily married for 27 years and have raised two beautiful daughters, Emily and Haley.
Parker was an avid sports fan, a history buff and a trivia master. He loved a good debate, 80s bands and his MG sports car. More than anything, though, he loved to referee wrestling, that’s where all of his best stories came from.
Parker pursued his life-long ambition of being a Hall of Fame wrestling referee in the United States, Western Canada and the Maritimes. In earlier years, he was The Masked Superstar on Cable Vision.
Parker began mentoring up-and-coming wrestlers and helped get their careers started by connecting with promoters. He helped independent circuits set up shows, set up equipment, and advertise and promote their shows. He worked as a ring announcer, set up the stage and any other job that needed to be done.
Three years ago, Parker began his battle with cancer. It started in his gall bladder. After many treatments and operations, the Parkers gained some hope and finally Parker was healthy.
In September 2014, however, the cancer returned, spreading quickly to his liver, then his lungs.
As his options ran out, Parker moved into the palliative care unit at the Truro Hospital.
Still, he fought on for months. Every time the doctors said he was out of time, he proved them wrong. They said he would never make it to Christmas.
No matter, the nurses all agreed Parker always had a smile on his face.
“He had some really hard times in his life, but he never let that get him down. He always just pushed through it, he was the best,” said Parker’s daughter, Haley.
There were frequent visits from his beloved dog Motley, and many visits from friends and family, with beer.
Parker passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving wife and daughters, on the morning of Dec. 27.
There wasn’t enough room in the funeral home to fit all of the people who wanted to pay their respects. There were 200 people in seats, two full standing rooms holding another 100, and jammed hallways.
Only then did people realized how loved and admired Parker was.
It seemed like every seat in the family room held a wrestler, or former wrestler. Some stood out a little more than the others. Among them was Maillet.
Maillet met Parker when his wrestling career started in the Maritimes 24 years ago. Parker was a ring announcer who found his calling when he became a referee.
“He loved what he was doing and was a friend to all who met him on the road. Being a Hall of Fame wrestling referee is proof of that,” Maillet said.
Parker was thrilled Mekedess called him Uncle Frank, and he loved her very much. When Maillet first learned of Parker’s cancer, they visited him and tried to lift his spirits. It worked, Maillet said.
“He was always happy to see us when we did [visit]. He fought with courage and dignity with his family by his side.
“Every time we ended our phone conversations, he told me he loved me and I would tell him that I loved him too.”
So he did with his daughters.
“I loved that every night, no matter what, he would text us saying he loves us. He would never let us leave or hang up until he told us he loved us,” Haley said.
Parker’s oldest daughter, Emily, spent many years following him to wrestling arenas and meeting all of the famous wrestlers.
“That was the best part about Dad. Everyone knew him, and he knew everyone. I was so fortunate to have met the people I did because of him,” she said.
One of the last trips the Parkers spent together as a family was to a hockey game while Parker was on a day pass from the hospital, Emily said.
“He was in heaven to be sitting in that rink, and out of that hospital. An old friend even stopped and asked him some questions for a story he would later write. It was one of the best day trips we’ve ever had.
“My favourite thing about him was that he could make me laugh all of the time.”
Haley said, “One of my favourite things was how supportive he was of us. No matter what, even if he didn’t agree, he wanted us to do what we wanted.”