Noted Middleboro World War II veteran, 83, dies

Alice C. Elwell

A decorated World War II veteran who was later known for helping protect 800 acres of land around his home died Saturday at Morton Hospital in Taunton.

Edward W. Parks, 83, died within days of the death of his wife, Christine M. (West) Parks.

The decorated veteran was awarded three Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star and was a prisoner of war in the Nazi camp Stalag IV after he was captured during the Battle of the Bulge.

Many of his men were lost, and Parks never forgot them.

In 2003, Parks said, “Some of them died in my arms. I live with this all the time.”

Parks almost lost both legs to frostbite while he was a prisoner, and he was troubled with the after-affects later in life.

During an interview, he told The Enterprise that he had to wrap his legs every night because of the pain, but that didn't stop him from regularly volunteering at the veterans hospital in Brockton.

The outspoken patriot threatened to return his French medal, the Croix de Guerre, in a fit of anger after the French response to Sept. 11, 2001, and the war on terrorism.

But he made amends with the French government; this spring, he was nominated for the Legion d' Honneur.

After World War II, Parks moved to the Black Brook Farm in south Middleboro, a homestead that is considered one of the oldest in town.

“Ed was always involved in historical preservation,” Historical Commission Chairwoman Jane Lopes said about her fellow member. “He attended every on site meeting, even with a bad heart.”

She said his desire to preserve local antiquities and landmarks meshed with his passion for conservation.

“He was a conservationist as well as a preservationist,” Lopes said, noting his recent agreement with the town to preserve his homestead.

Parks' legacy was to protect the 800 acres of pristine land around his home. This fall, after working with Town Planner Ruth M. Geoffroy for more than seven years, a conservation restriction was placed on a major portion of the Black Brook Corridor through a combination of several grants. Although the land can be sold, it will never be developed.

Selectman Wayne C. Perkins said the town bought the development rights for a fraction of what the land is worth.

“He did everything he could possibly do to enhance this town,” Perkins said. “The town lost a very, very, valuable citizen.”

“He was everywhere; you'd turn around and there's Ed Parks,” Perkins said.

As well as serving on the Historical Commission, Parks was elected to the Middleboro Gas & Electric Commission, appointed to the Agricultural Commission and the Weston Park Committee and was greatly involved in veterans affairs. He also served on the Century Association, a group that started the Middleboro Century Fund in 1969 to raise and invest funds for 100 years, to benefit future Middleboro residents.

On Monday night, selectmen unanimously voted to dedicate the annual town report to Parks.

Parks will be buried at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne on Nov. 27. Relatives and friends are invited to a visitation on Nov. 26 at the Ashley Funeral Home in Middleboro.