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Joseph Eugene Gene Parks

Joseph Eugene (Gene) Parks passed away on Friday, January 8, 2010 in Asheville, N.C. He was born in Wichita, Kan., to Joseph Farr Parks and Nora Ellen Coe Parks. He was preceded in death by his parents and the mother of his children, Mary Jo Goodwyn Parks.

A memorial service for Mr. Parks will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, January 15, 2010, in the chapel at Givens Estates United Methodist Retirement Community in Asheville. The family will receive friends following the service.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Rebecca Parks; his son, Joseph R. (Bob) Parks and Jackie of Oak Ridge, Tenn.; his son, Paul J. Parks of Venice, Italy; his daughter, Jane Ellen Fuller and Jeff of Farmers Branch, Texas; his daughter, Mary Beth Parks of Fort Worth, Texas; step-children Ida Lee Norrell of Greensboro, N.C., and David Norrell of Los Angeles, Calif.; grandchildren Melissa Clark and Jason of Lewisville, Texas; Christopher Parks of Livermore, Calif.; Brian Fuller of Farmers Branch, Texas; Richard Eugene Parks of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Christy Reynolds of Fort Worth, Texas; MMFN Kasey L. Reynolds, U.S. Navy, and Kristen; Ashley Parks, Oak Ridge, Tenn., and three great-grandchildrenIsaiah, Addison, and Katelyn Clark of Lewisville, Texas.

Mr. Parks served in the United States Marine Corps as a sea-going Marine during WWII. He was founder and owner of Parks Gardens (a wholesale florist and grower) active in South Texas and Mexico. In 1981 he and Mary Jo retired to Tryon. During his time in South Texas, he was elected to the South Texas Independent School District Board, served as president of the Rio Grande Valley Botanical Gardens and the Kiwanis Club of Pharr, was active in the First Methodist Church of McAllen, Texas and Pharr United Methodist Church, and the chamber of commerce of McAllen.

In Tryon, Mr. Parks was president of the Kiwanis Club, and lieutenant governor of division II for the Carolinas District of Kiwanis. He helped forge a relationship between the Kiwanis Club and the N.C. Extension Service for the Mens Cooking Class which continues to this day and for which he wrote the cookbook and helped teach many classes. He was an active member of and lay leader for Tryon United Methodist Church. He was a strong advocate for persons with handicapping conditions and battled for the implementation and extension of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mr. Parks was a dedicated and active member of Kiwanis International. He became involved with the Kiwanis Terrific Kids program in 1985 and served as Carolinas Chairperson until 2002. He energetically promoted the program both nationally and internationally. He served on the Kiwanis International Youth Services Committee for five years. He contributed generously to the international Iodine Deficiency Project sponsored by Kiwanis and the United Nations as it sought to bring funding and attention to this issue relating to mental retardation. He received the Tablet of Honor in 1999, served on the Kiwanis International Foundation Presidents Advisory Committee and the advisory cabinet, was a member of the founders circle and the heritage committee of the International Foundation Board of Trustees. He was honored by the Carolinas District for outstanding service to the district, receiving the Carl B. Hyatt award.

Mr. Parks moved to Givens Estates United Methodist Retirement Community in Asheville in 1995. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Asheville and Groce United Methodist Church.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Parks Family Endowment for Supplemental Assistance at Givens Estates, 2360 Sweeten Creek Road, Asheville, N.C. 28803. The family may be contacted at Givens Estates, 501 Cokesbury Lane, Asheville, NC 28803.