Donald Bruce Parks, M.D., who was the founder of Parkstone Medical Associates - his own private practice, which he ran for almost 40 years from the early 80s until his death, passed away on April 22, 2021. Parks was 70.
Parks worked at GlaxoSmithKline in research and development. During his time at GSK, he was responsible for the development of several pharmaceutical drugs. He is credited with more than 20 scientific publications and an extensive bibliography, including numerous articles on drug development. In addition, Parks authored several articles on minority physicians and their contributions to medicine.
After leaving GSK, he worked in the family medical practice. This experience prompted Parks to found his namesake practice — Parkstone Medical Associates in North Philadelphia — in the early 1980s. He built a robust practice and loved all his patients so dearly he could not bring himself to retire. True to his lifelong work ethic, Parks was practicing until his finals days. He will be sorely missed by his beloved staff members of more than 25 years: Cathy, Tamarra, Jonah and Robert.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter recognized Parks’ contributions to community improvement. A true pillar in the community, Parks and his wife Sharon Parks opened a facility in 1987 to house and provide services for the homeless, mentally ill/impaired, and formerly incarcerated.
While managing his boarding home and private practice, Parks worked tirelessly in many roles to improve the health and well being of those in North Philadelphia and beyond, including associate professor of Community Medicine and assistant dean for Minority Affairs at Temple University School of Medicine; medical director of the Temple Health Connection; and associate medical director of Temple Physicians Inc. Parks also served on numerous policy committees at Temple University Health System, Highmark, Aetna, Health Partners Plans, Keystone First and Cigna HealthSpring.
Parks was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Nov. 2, 1950, the second son of Robert DeWitt Parks and Bertha Brown. As a child, he attended Catholic schools and enjoyed seeing movies on the weekends with his older brother Joseph.
Around the age of 15, Parks met Dr. Richard P. Baker, a pathologist at Misericordia Hospital, who recognized Parks’ intelligence and work ethic and took the young man under his wing. Parks looked up to Dr. Baker and started working in the pathology lab cleaning test tubes. Parks graduated from West Catholic Boys School in 1968, and it was at that time he decided he would like to become a doctor.
He started is undergraduate studies at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina and completed his bachelor of science degree at Temple University in 1972. Through his undergraduate years, he worked as an orderly at Misericordia Hospital, which is where he first met Sharon Simpkins, who would later become his wife. Dr. Baker and pediatrician Dr. Allen Chandler were instrumental in supporting Parks’ matriculation to Jefferson Medical College for his advanced studies.
Sharon and Donald were married June 22, 1974. He often credited her with his success sharing his accolades, of which there are many, including the NAACP Exemplar Award (1972); the Pan African Studies Award, Temple University (1996); Practitioner of the Year Award, Philadelphia County Medical Society (1997); Humanitarian Award, Philadelphia Alumni Chapter Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (2016); and the History Maker Award, Philadelphia Tribune (2018).
Parks graduated from Jefferson Medical College in 1978 and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Philadelphia.
He was a member of Sigma Pi Phi Boule, Alpha Chapter, where he served as Grammateus. In his spare time, he actively mentored countless young medical professionals and served as a shining example of how a Black man from humble beginnings could make something of himself, excelling in business and in life.
Parks was truly one of a kind. He was the best kind of friend to have — loyal and true, always willing to help. He had a knack for making friends, often in unlikely situations and from all walks of life, which meant he had a connection for everything. That powerful ability to connect, mixed with his rare and abundant capacity for empathy, made his friendship very special. Those that knew him best relished his unique sense of humor.
The true joy of his life was his wife Sharon, to whom he was married for almost 47 years, until his death. They shared a wonderful and enduring love which saw them through life’s ups and downs. Their best moments were spent traveling to Europe, collecting antiques and enjoying fine dining. They also cherished summers spent with family and close friends on Martha’s Vineyard. Together they share three children: Laurie (Jim), Donald Drew (Sakina), and Sharon Candace and four grandchildren: Amir, Ava, Adam and James.
His funeral will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 30 at St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church, 242 S. 20th Street.