Of Home and Home Runs
Robert Parks Jr. was called the sports trivia specialist on Wall Street. "He had an unbelievable memory if you ever wanted to know who had the first home run or who was the first guy to get the Triple Crown," said his younger sister, Carol Parks Clancy. And though his mind simply brimmed with facts about sports, he was also no slouch on the movement of the stock market since 1929.
He was a bonds broker at Cantor Fitzgerald in 1 World Trade Center, and liked the energy of New York City. But he was really a homebody. At 47, he was the married father of two teenagers. He was content to barbecue burgers on the pool deck of his home in Middletown, N.J. His enthusiasm for sports played out through his children. His 16-year-old daughter, Bridgette, is a big swimmer, and he would go to her meets, checking out her times. He was also a coach for the basketball team of his 14-year-old son, Kevin. He himself had played high school varsity basketball and football at St. Peter's Preparatory School in Jersey City.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 17, 2001.
Robert Parks Jr., 47, sports trivia expert
Robert Parks Jr. loved sports trivia: baseball, golf, football, and especially the Jets.
"The big joke on Wall Street was if anyone had a trivia question they couldn't answer, Bobby would have it," said his sister, Carol Clancy. "He was like a sponge. . . . He could remember stuff from when he was 3 years old."
The Middletown resident's knack for numbers and details surely came in handy as a bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald Securities in New York, where he had started work in June.
"We both began new jobs the same time," said his youngest sister, Lauren Parks of Middletown. "And he was so happy with his job."
Parks, 47, was at work inside the World Trade Center on Tuesday when hijacked planes crashed into the Twin Towers. His body was identified on Saturday, said his family.
Born in Jersey City, Parks was raised in Bayonne, the oldest of five children. His father, the late Robert Parks Sr., owned an accounting and sales business. His mother, Mary Elizabeth Parks, is a retired human resources officer with Bankers Trust.
Parks attended St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City and was a graduate of St. Peter's College. He received his MBA from St. John's University in New York.
He loved sports, both as an athlete when he was younger and as an avid golfer. He also coached youth basketball in Middletown for many years.
Parks was a bond broker for nine years, and also taught economics and history at several area schools, including Hudson Catholic High School in Jersey City and Middletown North High School.
Yet, family members said he was most devoted to his children, Kevin, 14, and Bridgette, 16. "Every aspect for him, it was all for the kids," said his sister Lauren.
She said she lost a big brother, but that his influence would be lasting.
"He told me to keep myself centered and focused, and to do things that will make you happy," she said. "He was always thinking positive. Knowing how determined he was, I'm sure he was fighting to the end."
In addition to his sisters Carol and Lauren, mother, and two children, Parks is survived by his wife, Maureen Murray Parks; a brother, David, of Red Bank; a sister, Elizabeth Ann Parks of Bayonne, and several nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Thursday at the St. Catherine R.C. Church in Holmdel at 10 a.m., followed by burial at the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Middletown. His family has requested that donations be made to Red Bank Catholic High School, 112 Broad Street, Red Bank, 07701.
Profile by John Mooney published in THE STAR-LEDGER.