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National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Firefighter
Age: 48
Year of Death: 1987

Gary Lee Parks

Gary was killed in the line of duty fighting in the Everett Community College fire. Gary was the driver of Engine 2 stationed at headquarters on Oakes in Everett Washington and attended Everett community college to attain his fire science degree. This was an unsolved arson case for 35 years.

Born in Seattle, Washington on February 2, 1939, to Max F. Parks and his wife Charlotte. He joined his brother, John F. Parks as brothers and they became best friends.

In 1962 he met his future wife Kathy Entrop while working at a retail store. It was the year of the Seattle world’s fair and she was working at the space needle.

On their first date, he said, he knew he was going to marry her and they married On April 20, 1963 at St Matthew’s Catholic Church in Seattle. The couple then moved to Everett Washington and he continued working in retail. The dream of being a firefighter became a reality when he took the test and was offered a position in the Everett Fire Department on November 4, 1968. Their first daughter, Erin was born August 19, 1965, and they moved to Lake Stevens. Jennifer Parks was born on May 1,1968, and they raised their daughters on the shores of Lake Stevens.

Gary and Kathy were happily married for 25 years.

Gary spent 4 years in the Air Force in Germany and used his VA to attend Everett community college to gain a fire science degree attending every Tuesday until he earned his degree.

Gary volunteered to call BINGO as a fund raiser for the fire department. He loved it.

Gary loved snow skiing, water skiing and volleyball and the love of his life was sailing our 41foot sailboat “the Katherine.” As a family we would sail the San Juans and Canadian gulf islands…
Gary and Kathy built a restaurant in Lake Stevens called “up the creek” we sold it the year before he died. He wanted to spend time together.

Gary was a joke teller and could tell jokes for hours, he was so much fun and happy. He loved a challenge and could fix anything. (Especially the daughter’s cars, which always needed maintenance.)

Our daughters were growing up, Erin attended Western Washington University and Jennifer felt the need to spread her wings and leave home (we all regretted that decision) Erin graduated the year Gary died and he never saw her graduate

Erin married Steve VanRy 1987 and they have 2 sons: Zachary and Matthew and daughter Marissa (Gary never got the chance to know this wonderful family). He would be proud of his daughter Jennifer who is my right hand and we grieve daily missing him so much.

On the day Gary died we sailed in Puget Sound. We kissed good bye and he wrote “I love you, Kathy” on a wall and I never saw him again. I am still waiting for him to come home.

Our good friend of the Parks Family, Assistant Fire Marshal Bruce Hansen (retired) continues this story:

I will never let it go and I will always believe:

The story not told here, he gave his life so that another young firefighter and father could live. He was a hero in sharing his last air tank with a brother firefighter whose air tank had run out.

Gary never should have been in that fire and that the leaders never should have taken crews in there either. Further more the safest escape route should have been known by them. It was 10-15 feet away to the stairway that went to underground concrete tunnel, system below the floor would have been the shortest and safest escape route.

The entire group had to make an emergency decision to abandon their firefighting efforts and scramble out with their lives. Others just barely made it out had to be assisted and medically aided.

Gary only became separated from the rest because he was at the end of the line making sure the others got out first, and a 30foot long spliced beam crashed through the ceiling, and striking and denting his helmet, and knocking him off the exit routes.

There were heroic efforts by several firefighters going back into the inferno in search and rescue attempts along the hose line exit line. Eventually Gary was discovered approximately 15 feet off to the side of the escape route.

Gary died of smoke inhalation.

In a resent documentary on TV of this historic arson fire and cold case, the firefighter who shared the last of his air with, gave credit and paid tribute to Gary Parks for sacrificing his life to save his.

Gary Parks will always be remembered as a HERO who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

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  1. I began my career in the fire service three months after Gary lost his life. Although I didn’t personally know him, his death made a big impact on me the remains to this day. Reflecting back to 1987, I was a rookie with virtually no experience, morning the tragic loss of a veteran who I’m sure was very good at what he did.

    – Joe Rexach Kirkland Fire Department