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Billie J. Parks

6/20/1918 - 8/27/2017
U.S. Veteran
Service Date: 09/08/2017 at 12:00 PM
Location:Mason United Methodist Church
Cemetery:New Tacoma Cemetery
Service Details
Bill’s life will be celebrated at Mason United Methodist Church (2710 N Madison St Tacoma, WA 98407) on Friday September 8th at Noon. A small reception will take place immediately after followed by a burial at New Tacoma Cemetery.
On Sunday, August 27, 2017 a harp played by the bedside of Bill Parks as he, at the age of 99, took his final Bow. Bill was born in Columbus, New Mexico on June 20, 1918 where his father, Garnet Elmer Parks and his mother, Susie Ashcraft Gregg Parks, owned their town’s newspaper, The Columbus Courier. As a child his family made their way up to the northwest as his father owned several small town newspapers in Oregon and Washington. In 1929, when Bill was 11 years old, his father left him, his mother, and his 6 siblings. Bill had to grow up fast in order to help his mom when she resettled the family in the Redmond/Kirkland area during the great depression. Together he, his brother Garnet and mother Susie built a log house in Redmond. Their mom worked on the Kirkland Ferry while he and his brother looked after their young siblings and took jobs cutting wood and digging potatoes. They picked strawberries and they stripped Cascara bark to make ends meet. Throughout his school years he was active in school plays, he ran the mile on the Redmond High School track team and he played baseball on the town team in Kirkland. He was a devoted son and brother.

Bill worked at a newspaper in Kirkland and eventually landed a typesetter job in a newspaper in Centralia, and then the War began. He joined the Navy as a pharmacist’s mate and was transferred to the Marines as a Corpsman- a medic. Though the family was unaware, he had been assigned to the 28th Regiment and sent to Iwo Jima. His regiment was the troop that raised the famous flag at Mount Suribachi. He served bravely and tirelessly in the infamous battle. He was wounded and was awarded the Purple Heart. Later, he went on with his regiment to occupy Japan. His family did not know where he was or if and when he would return.

After the war, Bill returned to his typesetting job in Centralia where he met Crystal Mowrer. They married in 1950 and in 1956 he took a position with the Tacoma News Tribune. Later he would tell of how proud he was of his 25-year career with the Tribune. Soon after, they purchased their lifelong home in South Tacoma. In 1960 he and Crys adopted their son Alfred “Fred” Parks. Bill loved being a father, tending to his massive garden, fishing, and traveling all over the US and Canada. He loved adventure and would take off into the wilderness to fish, camp or hike to the top of Mount Saint Helens on a whim. As he got older he loved singing and, of course, dancing. He and Crystal took care of his mother in her last years and because of her love for music, he got her involved with a square dance group and the Clover Park Memory Singers. Bill, himself became a lifelong member of the Memory Singers. When his wife Crystal died, the Memory Singers kept him going. Through them he met his second wife, Amy and they danced every chance they got. The Memory Singers meant the world to him and he continued to perform with them right up to the young age of 98.

Bill spent his entire life helping others, giving to the church, and being an outstanding father and the most loving grandfather. He personally took care of his mother, his wife Crystal and his wife Amy until they died. His large family meant the world to him and he had a very special bond with each of them in his own wonderful way. The family knew he might just show up anytime no matter where they lived and the sight of him filled them with joy. There was never a family occasion that went by that didn’t involve Bill dancing with someone- his sister’s, granddaughters, nieces and great nieces were privileged at the chance to have him teach them a dance. Bill was an opera buff and collector. He also enjoyed square dancing. There was always time for singing and dancing if Bill was in the room. He also loved the comics, the Seattle Rainiers and if the Mariner’s were playing you could count on finding him listening with headphones on his transistor radio.

Bill is survived by his sisters, Margaret Irene Hill (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), and Barbara Jane Gay, (Seattle, WA); his grandchildren, Marquelle Parks Butler, Cara Parks, Jordan Parks; and his Great Grandchildren, Mara Meisberger, Gracelyn Meisberger, Easton Butler and Scarlett Frank. Bill is also survived by many nieces and nephews: Dann Gonyea, Collis Hill, Jim Hill, Jim Bender, Jimmy Parks, Lindon Parks, Ken Parks, April Parks Barumen, Tommy Parks, Kelly Parks, Susan Parks, Lory Wolgamott and Shannon Parks.

Bill is preceded in death by his loving wife of 50 years, Crystal Parks; his only son, Fred Parks; his 2nd wife, Amy Parks; his father, GE Parks; his mother, Susie Parks Kendrick; his brothers, Garnet Parks, Lyle Parks, Jim Parks; and his nephew, Bill Hill; niece, Susan Gonyea; and his sister, Gwen Gonyea.

Bill will be forever deeply missed and will be remembered as a pillar of strength, love and pure happiness. He could light up a room and was the definition of service and compassion. Rest in peace sweet angel you are now in the arms of the Lord.

Bill’s life will be celebrated at Mason United Methodist Church (2710 N Madison St Tacoma, WA 98407) on Friday September 8th at Noon. A small reception will take place immediately after followed by a burial at New Tacoma Cemetery. Please leave online condolences at Arrangements by Gaffney Funeral Home, 253-572-6003.
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