A Celebration of Life
RM Parks was born in Somerton, Arizona on July 25, 1923 to WM Aubrey & Vera Parks. Aubrey and Vera’s first home in Arizona was meager to say the least, right down to its dirt floors and out house. But it was a new start for the family. Living in Somerton, the family farmed 40 acres, growing cotton and alfalfa. They raised pork and RM’S mom, Vera, helped work the fields. RM’S dad had been hired by the Federal Government to run a dredger on the canal. So, RM, by the age of 10 could harness and drive a team with a working plow. During this period of time, RM, cut hemp and traded it with the Cocopa Indians for ponies, showing an entrepreneurial spirit at a very young age. RM walked to Greenway, a 3 room grammar school, grades K-8, and finished his freshman year at Yuma High School before the family’s next move. In 1938 the family moved to Turner, Oregon and lived on a 20 acre farm which RM helped work. He biked to school his sophomore year. Along with his school work he also played baseball and basketball. After 1 year the decision was made to move to Porterville to be near extended family.
In 1940, the family had moved to Castle Road in Porterville and RM was a junior at Porterville High School. While RM was attending high school, he met Clarice Wallace, his future wife. When he turned 18, he started driving a school bus and RM would pick Clarice up so she wouldn’t have to walk to school. RM, a senior, would come home after school and work in the fields. After RM graduated from high school in 1941, RM continued his education at Porterville Junior College. The family had purchased a ranch on Mathew Street. This is where RM was living when WWII broke out. He enlisted in the Navy in the V-12 Navy Program and continued his education at the University of Texas. He later attended Officer’s Training School. RM was stationed in the Philippines and China building air strips. At the end of the war, he was an officer retiring as a lieutenant JG.
RM returned to Porterville and on September 14, 1947 married Clarice, who at the time had a daughter, Gail, whose father was killed in the war. RM purchased a 20 acre farm and built their first home. This is the home where daughters, Marilyn and Marcia were born. RM and his father leased an additional 100 acres. They put in pasture and raised beef cattle. RM built all of the fencing and loading chutes himself.
In 1951, RM, Clarice and family moved to the home ranch. He grew cotton and alfalfa. That same year he bought his first John Deere Tractor. In 1953, RM began remodeling the house. All the construction was done by RM and two helpers. RM was innovative and always thinking ahead of time. He purchased the first 2-row John Deere cotton picker in Tulare County.
In the early 1960’s RM leased an additional 400 acres. He grew grain and sold it locally. RM began converting the home ranch to prunes, 20 to 40 acres at a time. When the ranch was sold in 1969, the entire ranch was planted in prunes. RM and Clarice moved into Porterville and designed and built a home on Highland Drive. RM was looking for a new opportunity and in December of 1969 he purchased the Texaco Plant and became a Texaco Consignee. He started out with his son-in law, Tim Callison, one driver and one secretary. The customer base consisted on 12 stations and about 40 farm accounts.
During the 1973 oil embargo, a government controlled program was created that allocated the amount of gallons of fuel that could be delivered to different locations. As soon as this happened, RM & Tim came to the plant one morning to find people lined up waiting to fill out paperwork for the program. At that time, gasoline was selling for 28 cents per gallon and diesel fuel was running 14 cents delivered, a truck and trailer of diesel sold for 9 cents per gallon.
In 1974, RM purchased all the Texaco investments in Tulare County and became a jobber. At that time RM Parks, Inc. was formed. Also in 1974, RM’S daughter Marilyn came to work for the company and in 1977 his daughter Gail joined the staff. Texaco, in 1985, asked RM Parks, Inc. to begin marketing in Fresno, Kings, and Kern counties. In the 1990’s with an eye on the future and RM’ s unique ability to foresee growth in unincorporated areas, he began to purchase properties for convenience stores. In 1998 construction began on the first of 4 Parks Place stores. In 1996, RM and the company acquired a Shell contract and started branding throughout the valley and State of California. RM was very proud of his fleet of trucks. The trucks could not leave the yard unless they were spotless.
Through the years, RM surrounded himself with talent and reinvested in his business. Knowing that the key to building a lasting business was forming enduring relationships, he set out to create a family atmosphere not only within his company but with his customers as well. Always thinking of his employees and customers as family has built a bond that holds true to this very day.
RM and Clarice were honored by Texaco and Shell with trips to Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, the Indy 500 Race, 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the first Winston Cup series race in California. RM and Clarice spent many wonderful summer vacations at Shaver Lake. He enjoyed fishing with his brother-in-law, John Freeman, every day. When all the grandchildren stayed at the cabin there was hiking, backpacking and swimming per day followed by an evening of board games and card playing.
RM always had a gift for growing things. When he and Clarice moved to Jaye Street in Porterville, the grounds were like a park, serene and beautifully manicured. This is when RM began a new hobby – Bonsai. Here his green thumb and meticulous attention to detail showed in everything he touched.
RM was a natural athlete. He played golf and tennis. He always encouraged all children to participate in sports.
In 1981, RM designed and built their final home on Highland Drive. He would drive his sports car to work at 7:30 am, even at 94 years old. He would always have a smile for everyone and would always ask about your family!
RM passed away August 26, 2017. He is survived by his daughters, Gail Enterline and Marilyn (Tim) Callison, four grandchildren, Jason (Tonya) Callison, Melissa (Chad) Davis, Greg (Nancy) Enterline, Laura Enterline, grandson in-law Jason Patterson, 12 great grandchildren and 2 greatgreat grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents WM Aubrey and Vera Parks, his wife Clarice Parks, daughter Marcia Parks, granddaughter Stacy Patterson and 2 sisters, Nina and Norma.
A Special thank you to the Ceballos family and Visiting Angels for their wonderful care during RM’S final days.
Some people wonder where life will take them. Unlike most people, RM was not a follower, he was a leader and visionary with the courage and determination necessary to plot his own course in life and to build his own destiny for the family he loved so much.
He will be dearly missed.