HeraldNet Ticket Giveaway

Fill out my online form.
The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar

Splash! Summer guide

HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 6:48 p.m.

25 years after fatal arson, firefighter Gary Parks' sacrifice honored

  • Kathy Parks, widow of firefighter Gary Parks (left) and family members listen to one of the speakers during the Gary Parks Remembrance ceremony at Eve...

    Michael O'Leary / The Herald

    Kathy Parks, widow of firefighter Gary Parks (left) and family members listen to one of the speakers during the Gary Parks Remembrance ceremony at Everett Community College marking the 25th anniversary of his death. Seated with Kathy Parks are (from left) daughter Jennifer Parks, granddaughter Marissa Van Ry, and Carol and John Parks, Gary Parks' brother.

  • Kathy Parks and family members listen to one of the speakers during the Gary Parks memorial ceremony at Everett Community College marking the 25th ann...

    Michael O'Leary / The Herald

    Kathy Parks and family members listen to one of the speakers during the Gary Parks memorial ceremony at Everett Community College marking the 25th anniversary of his death.

  • Everett firefighters salute during the presentation of the colors by the Everett Fire and Police Honor Guards on Thursday at the beginning of the memo...

    Michael O'Leary / The Herald

    Everett firefighters salute during the presentation of the colors by the Everett Fire and Police Honor Guards on Thursday at the beginning of the memorial ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of Gary Parks' death.

  • Kathy Parks places a flower on the Gary Parks memorial at Everett Community College after a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of her husband’...

    Michael O'Leary / The Herald

    Kathy Parks places a flower on the Gary Parks memorial at Everett Community College after a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of her husband’s death. Parks’ daughters, Jennifer Parks and Erin Van Ry, can be seen to the right, while Everett Fire Chief Murray Gordon looks on from the background. There also was a “Dressy Bessy” doll placed at the memorial. Parks was a popular prankster, and one of the classic firehouse pranks during his time in Everett involved a similar doll.

EVERETT -- The life Gary Parks gave meant more than he ever could have imagined, former Snohomish County executive Bob Drewel said Thursday.
Parks, an 18-year veteran of the Everett Fire Department, was killed battling an arson at Everett Community College on Feb. 16, 1987.
A memorial for the 25th anniversary of his death was held Thursday at the college's Baker Hall. The small auditorium was packed with police officers and firefighters from around the region.
About a dozen of Parks' relatives filled the first few rows.
Drewel was president of the college when the fire broke out. He thanked Parks' family for their strength since that "deeply sad day."
It was a time for memory and loss.
Those who gathered wanted to remember Parks' service and legacy. They shared funny stories of a man known for his big heart, humor and pranks.
Parks' eldest daughter, Erin Van Ry, spoke on behalf of her mother, Kathy Parks.
The family treasures their memories of Gary Parks, Van Ry said. They try to be strong and keep on moving, despite their grief.
They also hope that one day the mystery of who set the fire can be solved, she said.
Firefighters spoke of how losing Gary Parks a quarter-century ago devastated them. Yet they know he died doing what he loved: protecting his community.
Parks' death left a "huge hole" that can't be forgotten, Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said.
"Firefighters are special people," Stephanson said. "They have a special bond with one another, and they touch many lives in the community."
Over the years, those who knew Parks have looked for ways to remember and honor him, Stephanson said.
Still, they remain in Parks' debt, college President David Beyer said.
"All of these tributes to Gary Parks pale in comparison to the sacrifice he made 25 years ago," Beyer said.
Ken Dammand, a retired fire captain, read a poem he wrote about the deaths of Parks and another firefighter. The poem described how the ghosts of firefighters are always near, and are there when the unthinkable happens, and crews are trapped by flames.
If it's their time, the "Smoky Joes" are there to greet their comrade, Dammand said, showing the dying firefighter his new locker at the fire station in heaven.
The Smoky Joes are also there for those who survive, comforting them with this message:
"Tell the boys, we're always here."
Read more about Gary Parks
The horror of that night has never left Parks' family and fellow firefighters
With too little evidence to solve the case, arson investigation remains in limbo
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

HeraldNet highlights

Scenes from the fair
Scenes from the fair: Photo gallery: Kids, animals and thrill rides in Monroe
She understands
She understands: Advocate helps parents whose children struggle with mental illness
Dancer's muse is outdoors
Dancer's muse is outdoors: Everett native takes dancers to woods, beaches, mountains
Stryker Phd plays the hero
Stryker Phd plays the hero: Last-to-first rally wins the Longacres Mile (video)