Carl Kenneth Park was born in Madisonville, Texas, on February 22, 1934. His father was Carl Clifford Park, and his mother was Norah (Toadie) Stewart Park. He had two older sisters, Marjorie (Margie/Sister) Evans and Emogene (Jean) Crouch.
Tony was given the nickname from his Grandfather who admired a prize fighter with that same name. I guess he was hoping to give him a little spunk being the baby of the family. It must have helped because he got away with popping his sisters’ balloons by hiding under the house. The nickname caused problems later on when friends were visiting the hospital to see him and forgot that his real name was Carl. You’ll see that most of the family go by different names.
He went to Madisonville schools, was a class president, and most handsome senior boy. He played baseball and wanted to be like another Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial. After he graduated, Tony and a friend hitch-hiked to Saint Louis to try out for the Cardinals team. By the time they got close, they ran out of money. Their last ride was from an older lady who put them to work. They made enough money to get home and came back to Madisonville without trying out.
Tony joined the Army, as his second choice out of school, and ended up being deployed to Japan. On the boat over there, he loaned a guy twenty bucks figuring that he would never see it again. On the boat ride back, that same guy tapped him on the shoulder and gave him his twenty bucks back. Dad always gave without expecting anything in return. Sometimes people surprise you.
The Army paid for Tony’s college at Sam Houston State University. He majored in accounting, and after he graduated, he married Carla Sue Richardson. She wrote to him while he was in the Army, and he saved all of her letters.
Tony got a job in Baytown at an oil and gas company, and Sue got a job as a teacher in Channelview. They were looking for a permanent place to live and settled on Dayton. Dayton was the rice capital of Southeast Texas, and Tony did not like rice. He said that he ate so much rice during his Army stay in Japan that he couldn’t stand it. Their first duplex was rented from Boyd and Patsie Arnold. That began their longtime friendship. Carla, their only child, was born, and they raised her in Dayton.
Tony had two more jobs for US Steel in Baytown and Airstech in Channelview. He ended up becoming the head of accounting in his last two places of employment. One of his jobs required traveling, and he had a near miss when he was supposed to fly out and ended up staying. The plane which his fellow co-workers were on crashed.
Two week vacations came with each job, and Tony loved to travel, so off he drove driving to almost every state. He drove to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and got so lost that he had to stop and ask for directions. The lady he asked happened to be from Texas and said that she would like to travel back home with him. New York was scheduled for that trip and didn’t happen.
First Baptist Church played a big part in Tony’s and Sue’s lives. They were both Sunday school teachers, and Tony was a deacon and treasurer. He was serious in his deacon endeavors, and one time shook Claude Harding’s hand and slipped him some money as he told him to get a haircut. The youth group did pull a prank on him once too and moved his Volkswagon right on the sidewalk so you ran into it when you opened the church side door.
Tony gave up being a deacon because he was in love with racehorses and had to bet on them. He liked thoroughbreds because they ran long distances, and you never knew what could happen. He scouted the racetracks and ended up meeting a trainer, John Locke. They partnered together on a horse and did well enough that the partnership continued. This allowed Tony and Sue to travel to the racetracks in Arlington, San Antonio and of course, Houston. Tony had a couple of horses with a trainer in Louisiana so they could go to Vinton and Shreveport as well. During their travels, Tony and Sue would usually make a stop in some town that had a racetrack. Even if they had to leave their child Carla outside the chain link fence with the jockey’s and trainer’s children because she was too young to enter the racetrack (supervised of course).
Retirement for Tony was just a continuation of traveling, but this time it was to photograph each county courthouse in Texas and many of the state capitals. He ran horses until his trainer retired. He spent time gardening around the house and was proud of the bluebonnets that he grew, and he even traveled to the Kerrville and Fredericksburg area to see them in mass. He went back to teaching Sunday school at FBC in Dayton.
Tony was a devoted husband and looked after Sue until her last day. They would have been married in May for sixty-five years. Their fiftieth anniversary was spent going to the Kentucky Derby. They will be able to watch it together this year in heaven.
Carl Kenneth (Tony) Park was preceded in death by his wife, Carla Sue Park, father Carl Clifford Park, mother Norah (Toadie) Park, sister Marjorie (Margie/Sister) Evans, brother in-law Everett (Snookie) Evans, sister Emogene (Jean) Crouch, brother in-law Robert Crouch, niece Sheridan (Sheri) Austin, and niece Elizabeth (Beth) Evans.
He is survived by daughter Carla Edwards, son in-law Joey Edwards, brother in-law Emmett Richardson and wife Beth, brother in-law Preston Richardson and wife Susan. He is also survived by nieces and nephews, Gay Bryson and husband Harvey, Jan Lacombe and husband Greg, John Richardson, Jill Purvis and husband Lou, Sam Richardson and wife Tiffany, Robin Richardson, and Sarah Richardson.