FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Before he was killed Monday in a traffic accident, Tom Parent inspired adulation from his neighbors and exasperation from Fayetteville leaders.
The retired soldier became a gadfly at City Council meetings in recent years to oppose an effort to annex 46,000 Cumberland County residents.
Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne said he remembers Parent's persistent and passionate presentations at council meetings.
"It was a voice of challenge, and it was one that says, 'You need to be better, and let me tell you how,'" Chavonne said. "(He believed) perhaps just growing wasn't always enough, that you had to make sure that you were providing a high level of city services."
The annexation got Parent so riled that he ran for City Council last year. He lost by 900 votes, but he kept coming to council meetings and speaking out.
"I didn't always agree with him politically, but he was just a great citizen servant," Chavonne said. "This city, I believe, is better off for the Tom Parents of the world and what he did for our city."
Parent, 48, was a native of Maine who moved to the Fayetteville area in 1992. He worked as a civilian contractor at Fort Bragg after retiring from the Army.
He often rode around town on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He was turning onto Reilly Road from Fillyaw Road Monday at the same time a Nissan Pathfinder sped through the intersection and slammed a Honda Accord into his motorcycle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Parent is survived by his wife and daughter. His funeral will take place Friday afternoon.