Gordon Merritt Parks, 88, a former communications officer with the U.S. Secret Service, died Oct. 26 of pneumonia at Frederick Memorial Hospital. He lived in the area on several occasions since the late 1960s, including the past eight years in Frederick.
Appointed to the Secret Service in 1963 as its first communications officer, he modernized and expanded communications facilities to meet the agency's growing mission. He traveled overseas extensively on presidential trips, arranged communications services and made sure the president was never out of communication with the United States. His service in the Washington area, military and civilian, spanned the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford administrations.
Mr. Parks was born in Davidson, Saskatchewan, Canada, and grew up in Iowa. After graduating from high school in 1934, he enlisted in the Army's 113th Cavalry as a radio operator. During World War II, he served in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.
After a brief civilian career on the engineering staff of radio station WHO in Des Moines, he returned to active duty and was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division on occupation duty in Japan. Subsequent duty stations included Korea and the White House Communications Agency. He retired from active duty in 1963 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
He was later promoted to colonel and retired from the Iowa National Guard. Awards included the Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster and Army Commendation Medal.
He retired from the Secret Service in 1976 and moved to Florida. He returned to the area in 1996.
His first two marriages, to Ruth Henderson and Patricia Hunter, ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife of 35 years, Elizabeth Tunnell Parks of Frederick; eight children, Susan Miller of Ashburn, from his first marriage, and Kimberly Cole of Potomac, Deborah Wulff of Ramona, Calif., Valerie Smith of Kernersville, N.C., Claudia Plafsky of Deerfield Beach, Fla., and Beverly Parks of Germantown, all from his second marriage, and two stepchildren from his third marriage, James Ruth of Manassas and Dorothy Shober of Frederick; 16 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.