Friends remember Middle Tennessee fireman killed by COVID-19

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PLEASANT VIEW, Tenn. (WKRN) — On a plaque outside the Pleasant View Volunteer Fire Department, you’ll find the name James Parks.

Just like his name sits at the center of the sign, his friends say Parks was the center of their small town. Pleasant View Assistant Fire Chief, Trey Nelms, described him as the most selfless person he’d ever met.

“He got to put his fingerprint on this community every day,” said Nelms.”He never had any time to do anything for himself because he was always out doing work for somebody else.”

The 47-year old husband, and father of two, dedicated 15 years to the Pleasant View volunteer fire department. He rose in the ranks from lieutenant to captain before retiring last year, after a fire in his own home left him medically fragile.

“The day he went into the hospital I talked to him and he thought ‘man I got double pneumonia is what he thought,” said Nelms.

After some testing, Parks learned that wasn’t why he was in pain. He’d contracted COVID-19.

“He was superman. I just always said man that’s the dude that will come out on the other side. I mean he’s going to come out with some scrapes and scratches and scars, but he’s going to come out on top. That was just what he always did,” said Nelms.

But this time, it was different. After a month in the hospital, Parks lost his battle with coronavirus. His friends say Middle Tennessee lost a light.

“His personality and his professionalism and his passion for whatever he did just made you want to be around him all the time,” said Nelms.

Parks also spent years working for the Tennessee Department of Transportation. His friend and TDOT supervisor, John Sullivan, who also works as a firefighter recounted at least a dozen times that Parks jumped in to help someone, even if it wasn’t in his jurisdiction.

“He had his gear, his duty gear, and he’d respond to calls in other communities,” said Sullivan. “He could pump and put out fires and do everything we’d do if he was in that area.”

His friends say parks also served as a mentor for young folks around town, and served time over seas as a member of the United States military.

COVID-19 cut James Parks’ life short, but his drive and compassion for others will leave a long-lasting impact on his small town.

If you’d like to donate to his memorial fund, click here.

Parks’ friends tell News 2 that COVID-19 is postponing his celebration of life service until more people can safely gather together.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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