Thomas Alvin Parks Jr.

THE VILLAGES, FLA. — Thomas Alvin Parks Jr., 91, passed away peacefully Sunday, March 24, 2013, at home in The Villages, Fla. Born Dec. 22, 1921, in Stone Mountain, Ga., Tom was the only child of Thomas and Virginia (Walton) Parks.

In 1939, he was graduated from Jamestown High School in Jamestown, N.D. In the two years after high school, before the outbreak of World War II, 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 Lt. 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 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, D.C. 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, Wis.

Capt. 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 American Diabetes Association and The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, Pooler, Ga.

Know when to pay your respects.