Raymond (“Ray”) Mills Park was born in Akron, Ohio on December 5, 1920, at the beginning of the “Roaring Twenties.” His parents, Evert Province Park (1896-1958) and Serena Mills Park (1894-1990), had four children: Helen Josephine (Park) Yaden (deceased), Raymond Mills Park (deceased), Martha Park Morris, and Harry Park (deceased). When Raymond was a small child, Evert and Serena moved to Indiana to raise their family on a small farm. Ray’s father, Evert operated Park Construction Company, and Raymond learned many aspects of building beginning at age seven. He was also responsible for their 8-cow dairy and a team of horses during his growing years. By the age of fifteen, Raymond decided he wanted to be a farmer. But life had other plans for him, and farming was not a part of that plan.
He excelled in school, and achieved many honors during his Junior High and Senior High years. Raymond played football and was first chair clarinetist in the high school band and orchestras. He graduated from Plainfield, Indiana High School in 1939, first in his class. He competed for a merit-based scholarship to Purdue University and won it. At Purdue, he was ranked first in all of his courses taken during his Junior and Senior year coursework. Also, he played clarinet in the Purdue band. He graduated as a “Distinguished Student” after three and one half years with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.
It was during his college years that he married his sweetheart, Mary Maxine Morris, born in Hendricks County March 20, 1925. They would remain married for nearly 66 years until her death March 15, 2008. They had three daughters: Sandra Jill, Lynn Margaret, and Paula Rae. Raymond enlisted in the Navy during WWII and was stationed in the Aleutian Islands for most of his three years of service. He attained the level of Lieutenant.
Raymond’s professional life included employment at companies including Merz, Allison, General Electric, General Motors, Space Technology Labs, and TRW Systems, and most of his career was devoted to defense systems. He was instrumental in the design of varied aircraft including bombers, commercial aircraft, missiles, and other classified projects. He was gifted in math and physics, and his calculations helped to put men and rockets into space. His involvement with anti-ballistic missile systems and anti-submarine warfare spanned many years during his career. He was a registered Professional Engineer.
After his retirement, Raymond was active in several Masonic organizations. He had served as Worshipful Master of the Plainfield, Indiana lodge in 1951, and became very active again when retired. He was a member of Scottish Rite and York Rite, and the Shrine. For many years, Ray played clarinet and saxophone with the Shrine Band, and served as Band President, helping to raise many thousands of dollars for disadvantaged sick children and Shriners Hospitals.
Raymond’s devotion to his wife during her long-term illness was beyond measure. Even in his own failing health, he was her caregiver and partner through endless medical treatments and hospitalizations.
Raymond is survived by his three daughters: Sandra Foster of South Carolina, Lynn Peterson of Portola Valley, CA, and Paula Hawkins of Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. Raymond was grandfather to six: Martin Todd Hopkins of Colorado, Darren Mills Hopkins of North Carolina, James Furman Fowler V of California, Raymond Paul Fowler of California, Season Elyse (Hawkins) Pollock of California, and Ryan Phillip Hawkins of California. He was great-grandfather to four, and a fifth on the way: Madison Hopkins, Vanessa Hopkins, Christian Fowler and James Furman Fowler VI.
Raymond Park’s life was one to be much admired in so many ways. Before computers came into existence, he used his knowledge and ability to make highly technical computations that few people today are capable of. Part of the “greatest generation,” he was a builder, a creator, a “do-er” and a patriot beyond measure. His alma mater, Purdue, was always in his heart. His love for music, especially the “big band” era, spanned his entire life. He appreciated knowledge, and had a curiosity that would help create what had never been done before. Raymond Mills Park was laid to rest on January 25, 2010 at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, with military honors and a Masonic service. He was truly one of a kind, and he will be greatly missed by his family and all of those who knew him.
Military Honors were given at the service. This was followed by a Masonic tribute.