Dr. Lee Parks’ Legacy Celebrated with Memorial Dedication

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We spend our lives building a legacy of words and deeds – hoping what we’ve constructed lasts well beyond our short time on this planet.

Most of the time, we don’t get to see that legacy firsthand, leaving it instead to the generations that follow to share, judge and push forward.

Dr. Lee Parks, however, got to enjoy building that legacy one patient at a time prior to his death in November of 2020. Over more than 28 years as an OB/GYN with Adena Health System, a piece of his legacy went into the world with each of the thousands of babies he helped deliver. It went with their grateful parents who relied on his guidance and it went with everyone touched by his care and compassion.

Recently, that legacy was celebrated with the dedication of a memorial rock and plaque provided by the Adena Health Foundation in a courtyard between the Medical Office Building and Adena Orthopedic and Spine Institute on the Adena Regional Medical Center campus. Roughly 60 people attended the ceremony, including several members of Dr. Parks’ family. They shared memories and heard from several speakers ranging from Adena President and CEO Jeff Graham to close friends and colleagues Dr. Kristin Colwell and Dr. Christopher Buckley to other friends and members of Adena’s leadership, each offering their own recollections of Dr. Parks’ skill, compassion and welcoming smile.

Dr. Colwell’s relationship with Dr. Parks went back to her days in residency.

“He was a year ahead of me and helped guide me through residency and helped get me to Chillicothe to work here,” she said. “He’s been such an amazing, solid rock – a stable pillar for our practice. I’m still used to looking for him standing in the spot where I always knew I could come find him to ask for advice.”

Dr. Christopher Buckley, another longtime friend and colleague, agreed.

“Lee was my mentor when I came to town – I was by myself and had no one to really help me out and he stepped up and it turned into a really close friendship that blossomed over the years,” he said. “He became my best friend and I really miss him. We would sit in the doctor’s lounge and have lunch almost every week and just talk about the kids and family, or in the parking lot, we would walk out together and would talk for 20 or 30 minutes, just family, nothing to do with work, and I miss that.”

A large photo of a smiling Dr. Parks placed behind the actual memorial prompted many of those speaking to note that it perfectly captured the man they all remembered. The memorial plaque includes the phrase, “May the Work I have Done Speak for Me.”

The phrase could not have been any more appropriate in describing Dr. Parks’ impact. In addition to his clinical work, he played a role in the community’s battle against addiction by playing a part in launching Adena’s Baby-Centered Recovery Program in 2012. The program has been successful in helping women move beyond opiate dependence through encouraging social supports, linking clients to community services, providing education about pregnancy and addiction and offering medically assisted treatment for detox after giving birth, and has been recognized nationally as a “Program of Excellence.”

His service didn’t end with his work at Adena, however. He also served his country, spending more than 16 years as a flight surgeon in the Ohio Air National Guard.

Shortly after Dr. Parks’ passing, hundreds of comments were posted to social media paying tribute to both his professional skill and how important his kindness and compassion were to his patients and others he encountered in the community. Those feelings haven’t faded with time.

“We all see patients of his every day, and they still cry,” Dr. Buckley said. “He’s touched so many people in this community and on the medical staff, and to this day, we still really miss him.”

Dr. Parks’ widow, Heidi, was among his family members attending the ceremony and was grateful for the memorial and outpouring of support from his Adena family.

“It means a lot to us,” she said. “The people who showed up and the fact they took the time and effort and cared enough about him to do something like this. He loved his co-workers, they were like his family, and Dr. Colwell and Dr. Buckley had been with him forever. He also loved his patients – he was always bringing home recipe cards or gardening tips or different things they would bring him.”

Dr. Jack Berno, another friend and Chief of Staff at Adena, noted that feeling was mutual.

“He was just a wonderful physician and a wonderful member of our medical staff,” he said. “He was a leader, a great doctor and a lot of fun.”