Howard Parsons, Jr. grew up in Hopewell, Virginia and graduated from Hopewell High School in 1970. He attended North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mt., NC, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 1974. Howard married his college sweetheart, Judi Vilagos, in Kendall Park, NJ on August 3rd ,1975 and they have been together ever since.
Though he studied biology at Wesleyan and was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree, his career path was changed by an introductory computer science class in the second semester. His fiancée was conducting a survey on campus as part of a Sociology class and Howard’s project for the computer science class was to develop an application to analyse the results of that survey.
At the time of his graduation, the job prospects for young people with college degrees were not that favourable. Unable to find a position related to his degree in Richmond, VA, Howard took a job as a computer operator for Best Products Co. He stayed with Best for fifteen months and following his marriage to Judi, moved to Atlanta, GA, so that she could pursue an advanced degree in Sociology at Emory University, Howard studied Virology at Georgia State University but as the time for his thesis approached, the prospects for research in Microbiology was tenuous at best. He decided at that point to direct his efforts towards a career in Information Technology.
Following stints at Capitol Foods and Peachtree Warehouse Distributors in the Atlanta area, he took his first full-time programming position with The Harrison Company in nearby Norcross, GA. Harrison – now part of Thomson-Reuters – was a long-time Georgia legal publisher with the annotated Code of Georgia, Florida Statutes Annotated, the Georgia Reporter and a long list of legal treatises to its credit. During his tenure at Harrison, Howard developed numerous applications to analyse, extract, and format textual material for publication, an application to re-paginate legal treatises so that relevant footnotes appeared at the actual foot of the page rather than the end of the chapter, etc., and a print driver for the Autologic APS-5 photo composer.
In 1982, Howard and his wife, Judi, relocated to his native Virginia and continued his career in legal publishing by joining The Michie Company in Charlottesville. Michie was owned by ITT at the time and held a sizable portfolio of annotated state codes. While at Michie, he developed applications in both IBM and WANG assembly language, COBOL, PL/I and Perl. In order to more effectively publish books drawn from the company’s new Editorial Automation System, Howard developed his own programming language – the Text Oriented Object Language or TOOL and was used for over 20 years, on two continents, to publish print and/or online versions of the codified statutes for all 50 states and several US territories.
The Michie Company eventually became a part of LexisNexis and Howard served as the technical lead on a multi-million dollar project to produce annotated state codes by combining statutory material in the public domain with case notes gleaned from the Lexis case-law databases. His leadership helped bring this important project in on time and under budget. Howard also served as project manager for a team of highly talented software engineers and developed robotic applications to automatically extract, format, update and transfer information between servers – both in-house and otherwise – as well as mainframe systems. His 30-year career in legal publishing finally came to a close in 2008 when LexisNexis chose to offshore much of its software engineering to India.
Howard formed his own company, Parsonage Data Services, in the Fall of that year with the goal of providing web site development and technical support for individuals and small businesses. During this time, he served as the President of the Charlottesville Chapter of Business Networks International (BNI). The client list for Parsonage Data Services continued to grow and Howard was kept fairly busy.
Despite the growing success of Parsonage Data Services, Howard’s first love was still programming and software development. In November of 2010, he accepted a position with S.A.I.C – Science Applications International Corporation – as a Senior Software Engineer in their Charlottesville, VA facility. Howard was assigned to the AIMES project for the U.S. Air Force where, in addition to programming, he was responsible for installing and testing the server software developed by the Charlottesville team. After a successful year with S.A.I.C., Air Force funding cuts reduced the amount of staffing for AIMES and overall reductions in Department of Defense spending precluded Howard from transitioning to a different project and he therefore returned to his previous position as President of Parsonage Data Services in November of 2011.