Thomas A. Parks, Jr. The Villages, FLThomas Alvin Parks, Jr., 91, passed away peacefully Sunday, March 24, 2013 at home in The Villages, Florida. Born December 22, 1921 in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Tom was the only child of Thomas and Virginia (Walton) Parks. In 1939 he was graduated from Jamestown High School in Jamestown, North Dakota. In the two years after high school, before the outbreak of WWII, Tom attended Georgia Tech and the University of Minnesota. After Pearl Harbor, he would say, Everything changed. He immediately left school and enlisted in the Army Air Corps, training to become a bomber pilot. In late 1943, First Lieutenant Parks was on his ninth mission out of England when his B-17 was shot down over Bremen, Germany. He was 21 years old and the youngest man in the plane when he ordered the nine men under his command to bail out of their stricken aircraft over enemy territory. In a letter to Tom's parents after the war, one of those men credits the crew's survival to the quality of their pilot's training and leadership. They all spent the last 18 months of the conflict as POWs. After the war, Tom returned to Georgia Tech to pursue a degree in industrial engineering. Fatefully, in 1947, while still a student, he met the beautiful Evelyn C. Cole of Winter Harbor, Maine, who was in town on business for just three days. Apparently, they were each exactly what the other was looking for. After a couple of dates and seven months of letter writing, they married in Washington, DC. Tom was called back to the Air Force for Korea and honorably discharged in 1954. In 1955 he began a long career as a production manager in the carpet industry with Mohasco, eventually retiring in 1983. After retirement, Tom and Evelyn traveled the country playing a lot of golf before finally settling in The Villages...largely because of its abundance of golf courses. He is survived by Evelyn; son, Tom, and his wife, Casi of Los Angeles; daughter, Susan Parks and her daughter, Colee of Lubbock, Texas; son, Joe and his wife, Susan and their daughters, Ginnie, Cassie, and Carrie of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Captain Parks will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery, joining those brothers and sisters-in-arms who went before him after serving so well the country they loved so much. Memorials may be made to the
and The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, Pooler, Georgia.
Published in The Daily Gazette Co. on Apr. 2, 2013