They’ll come this day to remember.
But more to celebrate the life and times of Douglas Hunter Parks, the 45-year-old entrepreneur, passionate conservationist, wildlife enthusiast and born-again Christian.
“At the end of duck season, you got an extra week for kids and military veterans,” Greg Parks was saying about his nephew. “That was the hunt they were on and coming back from on that Sunday.”
Hunter Parks was among seven passengers aboard the Pilatus PC-12/47 aircraft owned by Parks that left Hyde County on Feb. 13 headed toward Beaufort, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The plane crashed within three or four miles of Drum Inlet in Carteret County.
Parks’ longtime girlfriend, Stephanie Ann McInnis Fulcher, 42, and her 15-year-old son Jonathan Kole McInnis, both of Sea Level, also died in the crash, according to the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office.
The others who died were Ernest Durwood Rawls, 67, the pilot; Jeffrey Worthington Rawls, 28, the pilot’s son; Noah Lee Styron, 15; Michael Daily Shepard, 15; and Jacob Nolan Taylor, 16, the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office said.
A friend you could count on
Hunter Parks was a vivacious kid who grew up in the Summertime neighborhood off Morganton Road hanging out with friends to include Leighton Bostic, Jim Soffe, Richard Fox, Jason Stancil, Neil Davis and Brian Armstrong.
They were your typical kids riding their bicycles, skateboarding and shooting their BB guns and “occasionally, we got into some trouble,” Armstrong recalls. Nothing serious, mind you. Just boys being boys and developing friendships along life’s way.
“Hunter was the friend I could call on if I ever needed help, and without fail, he would show up,” Armstrong says. “And believe me, I called on him several times over the years, and he was there. Hunter was there for all of his close friends. And we, his friends, were there for him as well. Hunter was loyal almost to a fault, but he expected the same in return.”
And, Armstrong will tell you, Hunter Parks was a man of his word.
“When he told you he would do something or be somewhere,” Armstrong says, “you better believe he would follow through, and then some.”
Hunter Parks would gain new friends at N.C. State University in the mid-1990s, particularly with fraternity brothers of Sigma Chi.
He was smart.
He had visions of better tomorrows.
He wasn’t afraid of the risk for the greater reward or the greater good.
“He charted his own course,” Armstrong says, “and was dedicated, persistent and determined in whatever venture he undertook.”
And no businesses were more important to him than Mattamuskeet Ventures, of which he was a partner on family-owned land, and Green Assets, the Wilmington-based company that Parks founded for forest carbon production credit transfers.
A love of the land
He loved the land, something he inherited from his grandfather, the late Jack Parks, and his father, Chip Parks, who died at age 62 on Oct. 17, 2005. And Hunter Parks loved sharing his passion for hunting and the outdoors with others.
“It's my understanding that there are a few weekends each hunting season that are designated as ‘Youth Weekends,’” Armstrong says. “During these weekends, Hunter would host kids and their parents at his hunting club in Hyde County and would guide their hunts. Most of the time he did not even fire a shot or even carry his shotgun, as the part he loved most was watching the smile on the kids’ faces after they bagged their first-ever duck.”
And Hunter Parks found the perfect complement to his life more than 10 years ago in Stephanie Fulcher.
“She was truly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” Armstrong says. “She was a perfect match for Hunter, and we often joked that she was the female version of Hunter. He absolutely adored her and during the time they were together was the happiest I’d ever seen Hunter. He was at his best while they were together. Kole was just an all-around good kid. Hunter immediately took to him and they had an incredible bond. Kole had a big, bright future ahead of him.”
Will Graham will deliver the eulogy for the celebration of Hunter Parks’ life scheduled for 3 to 7 p.m. today at the Carolina Barn, 7765 McCormick Bridge Road, in Spring Lake. He is the oldest son of Franklin Graham and grandson of the late evangelist Billy Graham.
Will Graham knew Hunter Parks well, and no better than that Nov. 17, 2017, day at a small church in Fairfield near Lake Mattamuskeet in Hyde County.
“Hunter was saved by Will Graham on Nov. 17, 2017,” Toliver Parks says about the hour when his brother rededicated his life to “his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
No need for neck-ties this day.
Come in your blue jeans, your khakis, your boots.
“Hunter Parks-type attire,” Toliver Parks says with a smile.
Hunter Parks would have it no other way.
Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-624-1961.