"If I was to choose the one minister I could listen to
and enjoy every Sunday it would be the Reverend G. W. Parks," once quipped
former Hardin-Simmons University president Dr. J.D. Sandefer.
While George W. Parks died more than 60 years ago, his life
is remembered and honored by a newly established scholarship fund at Hardin-Simmons
University given by an anonymous donor. The donor specifies that the scholarship
should represent a significant percentage of a student’s college costs.
Even though Parks did not attend HSU, the donor says the
university shares his values. Besides, there is an important family tie. One of
Park’s grandsons, Dr. Elwin L. Skiles, became president of Hardin-Simmons University
from 1966 – 1977. The Skiles Social Sciences Building, completed in 2003, is
named in honor of President Skiles.
Parks served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Roscoe for
11 years, but his influence was seen across West Texas as he was called to
pastor churches in Scranton, where he served for 18 years, as well as churches
in Ovalo, Nimrod, Clyde, Baird, Gorman, Pleasant Hill, Eastland, Carbon, Spade,
Paynes Chapel, and Hermleigh.
Outside of church, Parks is remembered for his extraordinary
values and the significance he placed on education. He was also an active civic
figure, serving as president of the Roscoe Luncheon club, a chamber of commerce
organization, and serving 14 years on the Roscoe School Board, 8 of them as
president of the board.
Parks was named Outstanding Rural Minister of Texas by the
Texas Baptist Convention, and in the early 1950s he was named Outstanding
Citizen by the Roscoe Lions Club. HSU’s President Sandefer offered Parks the
position of Bible Chair more than once, but he declined because, as recalled by
the April 7, 1951, obituary in the Abilene
Reporter News, he wanted “to stay a small town minister.”
Born in Whitley County, Kentucky, June 14, 1866, to Gabriel
and Agnes Nancy Patrick Parks, he wed Anna Victoria Cain Parks. Married for 63
years, the Parks had four sons and four daughters. Parks retired at the age of
80 from the Baptist church in Hermleigh.
The G.W. Parks Memorial Scholarship may be given to
full-time students majoring in any field of study with a minimum of a 3.0 grade
point average and may be re-awarded as long as criteria can be maintained.
Recipients will be selected based on good character, motivation, and a
student’s desire to make a contribution to his or her community.
scholarship will be awarded for the first time to students for the fall 2014