William John Park, 93, died Sunday, July 7, 2019. Born in Greenwood, SC October 17th, 1925, he was the son of Mary Barratt Park and George Watt Park.
A graduate of Greenwood High School, he attended Clemson University his freshman year in 1942. Following that year he enlisted in the V-12 program of the United States Navy. He received the commission of ensign in midshipman’s school at Northwestern University in Chicago, Ill., then additional communications training at Harvard University. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor for a year prior to his discharge from the navy. He returned to Clemson and graduated in 1948. On June 26, 1948, he married his long time sweetheart Jean Jones Park, and joined his brother Barratt in running George W. Park Seed Company, the family business.
In 1964, he sold his interest in the seed company to his brother and started Parkwood Nurseries. At the death of his brother, George Barratt Park, and wife, Margaret Leonard Park, in a private plane crash in 1967, William John returned to the seed company to run it for his brother’s four children. During his tenure as president and CEO of Park Seed Co., it grew to be one of the major mail order horticultural companies in the United States.
The walls in his home office are covered with awards and plaques honoring his service as president of many organization’s boards - - too many to mention.
Some of the notable ones are: The Distinguished Service Award given by Clemson (Clemson’s top alumni honor); Greenwood County Business Hall of Fame; honorary member of the Southern Nurseryman’s Association; the Silver Medallion Award of Honor from All America Selections for outstanding achievements in horticulture; and the National Council of State Garden Clubs award for world-wide contributions to the field of horticulture.’
He has served as a trustee of Presbyterian College, Columbia Theological Seminary, and was a member of the County Bank board. He was also a member of Goldsmith’s Seed Company board in Gilroy, CA. He has served as an elder and trustee of First Presbyterian Church where he taught Sunday School classes for many years. He was president of All-America Selection, and chairman of Home Garden Group of American Seed Trade Association. In 1993, he was presented the Order of the Palmetto from the governor of South Carolina.
Many people have called William Park a "Renaissance Man" for he was able to do anything. He built a four manual electronic organ from scratch which was eventually donated to Clemson University. He restored a number of classic automobiles and restored an antique player piano that once belonged to his father. He was a carpenter, brick mason, plumber, and electrician. After their home burned to the ground in 1960, he served as his own contractor to rebuild the house.
He is survived by his wife, Jean Jones Park, of the home; a son, Dr. William J. Park, Jr. and wife Lila of Edisto Island; a daughter, Barbara Elizabeth (Bess) Park, a grandson, Dr. Isaac Park of Santa Barbara, Calif. He is also survived by many beloved nieces and nephews.
Graveside services will be held Thursday, July 11 at eleven o’clock at Edgewood Cemetery with Dr. Kyle Hite officiating and Blyth Funeral Home in charge. Pallbearers will be George Park, Leonard Park, Jack Jennings, Harold Crawford, Bill Haskin, Charles Drake, Len Bornemann, and John Cooper. Honorary escort will be Klaus Neubner, John Elsley, Sammy Saxson, Lang Reynolds, Philip Bell, and Jim Alston. The family is at the home of Bess Park, 120 Overbrook Rd. Greenwood. Memorials may be sent to the charity dearest to your heart.