Richard P. Parkinson, MD|
1921 ~ 2013
On 14 April 2013, flanked by his two devoted friends, Izzi and Carlos Vallez, Richard Parkinson MD entered the Eisenhower Medical Center Emergency Room, not as the distinguished physician he had become over the last 58 years, but as a patient. Under the tender care of Dr. Amy Smoolker and her staff, he peacefully passed away after a brilliant career as a physician, humanitarian, soldier and family man.
Born in Franklin, Idaho on 2 January 1921, "Parky" spent his formative years fishing and canoeing on the Cub River, exploring the mountains of North Cache Valley and delivering newspapers on horseback for a dollar a week. Though hard working and dedicated to the family farm, he knew from a young age that rural life was not for him. After graduating from Franklin high school in 1939, he enrolled at Utah State University, where he joined the Sigma Chi fraternity. Forty years later in 1980, he was awarded the "Significant Sig," the organization's highest honor.
His formal education was interrupted in 1941 when he was called to active duty in World War II. The following year he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army. Before being sent overseas in 1944, he met his sweetheart, Marilyn White, at the UCLA Chi Omega Sorority House. They exchanged letters over the next two years. Wounded in the Battle of Anguar, he received the Purple Heart before returning to the States in 1946. On 6 January 1947, he and Marilyn were married. Their marriage was later solemnized in the LDS Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah.
After the war, he earned his paratrooper wings at Fort Bragg North Carolina, and then retired from active military duty in 1948. In later years, he joined the California National Guard, retiring as a Brigadier General. Resuming his education at Tulane University, he earned his MD degree in 1955. He settled in Indio, California, establishing a successful medical practice. He did it all: Surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics, emergency medicine and family practice. He was known throughout the Coachella Valley for his vast fund of knowledge, razor-sharp clinical skills and compassion. In the 1970s he served three tours of duty in South Vietnam as part of the American Medical Association's Volunteer Physicians for Vietnam Program. When Dr. Parkinson retired from private practice, he worked as a prison doc for the California Penal System. He also opened a free medical clinic in Indio, reaching out to the uninsured, homeless and disenfranchised.
In addition to being a top-notch physician, he was a world-class senior athlete. After setting records in the decathlon, he began competing in triathlons at age 63. He successfully completed nine "Iron Man" competitions in Hawaii. He was also a devoted father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
He is survived by his wife Marilyn; four sons, Richard (Mavis), James (Susan), Brett Thomas (Kelly) and David; 13 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by three siblings; Blaine Parkinson, Diane Colston, and Nan McCulloch.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Bernice and Karma Parkinson, his brother David and sister Polly.
As a family, we extend special thanks to Woody Germany, Parky's trainer and friend; and to son David, who has sacrificed so much time and energy over the last several years in caring for his parents.
Funeral services will be held at the Indio Ward Chapel, 81-870 Avenue 48, at 11:00 a.m. on 20 April 2012. A viewing will be held prior to the services from 9:45-10:45 a.m.
Published in Deseret News from Apr. 19 to Apr. 20, 2013