Whether he was fighting fires or helping stranded drivers on the side of the interstate, James Parks was always ready to give his best, and his family and friends knew he gave his best when he fought COVID-19. But complications of the disease proved too much for the former Pleasant View Volunteer Fire Department Captain and current Tennessee Department of Transportation HELP Driver, and Parks passed on Aug. 7.
Parks’ lifetime friend and co-worker, John Sullivan, said he and his work team as well as Parks’ wife and children were shocked and saddened to see this fearless father suffer from complications of the coronavirus. “We were all worried about him. Everybody was just pulling for him to get better,” Sullivan said.
Parks joined the PVVFD in 2004 and was promoted to Lieutenant and then Captain during his tenure. It was no surprise that he had gotten into emergency services, he said, because Parks, known as “Peanut” to his friends, was “calm under fire, brutally honest, and knew when to roll up his sleeves” and get the job done.
“He was 100 percent dedicated, whether it was training himself or other people, or mentoring the guys he worked with. All that helped him sharpen his skills more,” Sullivan said. Parks’ work in the fire department helped push Sullivan to go work as a lieutenant fire officer in Pegram.
“He was proud to be able to say that’s my buddy, Big John. He opened up doors for me,” he said.
Their friendship, which began when they were just in grade school and continued into emergency services work and now their jobs at TDOT, became a lifelong bond.
“He always looked up to me and I looked up to him, even though he’s a couple years younger,” he said. “He helped me learn humility and to never forget where you came from, he said.
James Parks is survived by his wife Sandra and their children, Austin and Payton.
Sullivan has set up a memorial fund for the Parks family here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/james-parks-recovery-fund?utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link.
A celebration of Parks’ life will be held at the Pleasant View Community Park on Friday, Sept. 4, from 4-6 p.m. It will be open to the public