Founder Of Parks Sausages Dead At 72
TOWSON, Md. (AP) _ Henry G. Parks Jr., who founded Parks Sausage Co., the first black-owned business to raise money with a public sale of stock, has died after a long illness. He was 72.
Parks, who began to suffer from Parkinson’s Disease in the mid-1970s, died early Monday at the Meridian Multi-Medical Nursing Center in Towson, hospital officials said.
Baltimore-based Parks Sausage makes scrapple, sausage and other meat products for sale in stores from Massachusetts to Virginia. The company’s slogan, ″More Parks Sausages, Mom,″ is well known throughout the Northeast.
Parks founded the company in 1951 in an abandoned dairy in Baltimore. He took it public in 1969.
″That’s so significant,″ said Raymond V. Haysbert, the current chairman of Parks Sausage. ″Public financing of companies is what America is all about. Underlining that achievement is that only three or four other black firms have followed Parks into public financing since 1969.″
Parks Sausage was one of the largest black-owned companies in the nation when Parks sold his interest in it in 1977 for $1.58 million.
Parks also served on the Baltimore City Council from 1963 through 1969 and pushed bills opening public accommodations to blacks and easing bail requirements for people accused of crimes.
″He was not a civil rights person in the confrontational sense,″ Haysbert said. ″But he worked behind the scenes to convince powerful people of the illogic of racism.″
″I think that I proved that black businessmen not only can be successful, but that they can be successful on the same terms as anybody else,″ Parks once said.
Parks was born in Atlanta and grew up in Dayton, Ohio. He said he became interested in business while studying at Ohio State University. At the university, he roomed with Olympic sprinter Jesse Owens, became the first black on the school’s swim team and was the only black in his marketing classes.
Parks also sat on the corporate boards of Magnavox, First Penn Corp., Warner Lambert Co., W.R. Grace Co., and others.
Survivors include two daughters, a sister and three grandchildren.