Roosevelt County lost one of its hardest working residents Sunday with the death of lifetime Milnesand resident Thomas Elton Parkinson, according to family and friends.
Parkinson, 91, died at a Portales senior living center.
Better known as “T.E.” or “Elton,” Parkinson was the Milnesand fire chief for 30 years, along with being a farmer, rancher, welder and EMT.
“He was a great asset to the community,” said current Milnesand Fire Department Chief John Mohon. “He was a respectful man and I learned a lot from him.”
Mohon said he and Parkinson started the Milnesand Fire Department in 1977, with Parkinson serving fire chief until Mohon took over in 2000.
“He was a great man to work with and I enjoyed the knowledge he gave me to improve me as a fire chief,” Mohon said. “The working relationship we had together was awesome.”
Mohon said among the important lessons he learned from Parkinson was to be patient and listen to others, “which is hard to do sometimes as a chief.”
Mike Miller, a former Portales city councilor and fire chief, said Parkinson always worked hard for his community.
“Elton was the Milnesand Fire Department,” Miller said. “He just worked and worked and worked to make it one of the best fire districts anywhere. He was always ready to face any challenge that came his way. That speaks to the man he was.”
Miller said Parkinson built fire trucks for the department and turned military surplus equipment into firefighting equipment.
“He was just a wonderful individual. I never ever heard him complain about anything,” Miller said. “He was always ready to make happen what needed to happen. He was committed to everything he was involved in. You could just count on him.”
Jerry Parkinson said his father found time for his family even though he worked a lot.
“He was a good dad,” Jerry Parkinson said. “He was a hard worker and dedicated to the community and doing right. He was always good to take us to church. He worked a lot but he always took us to school and came to our sporting events.”
Barbara Teel said her father was the hardest working man she has ever known.
“He worked so many hours a day to be able to provide for us,” Teel said. “I can’t say enough about my father. He was a remarkable man. He worked so hard at farming and ranching and everything. I think the influence I had growing up was just wonderful.”
She said her father worked until the end of 2009, when he 89 years old.
A funeral service will be held for Parkinson at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Calvary Baptist Church in Portales with a Portales Fire Department Honor Guard with Karen Burns, of the Clovis Fire Department, and former Portales Fire Chief John Bridges as the honorary speakers.
“It’s an honor,” Bridges said of being the honorary speaker. “I worked for the Portales Fire Department for 23 years and my association with him through the Milnesand Fire Department was always one of collaboration and doing what was best for our community. That’s just the way Mr. Parkinson was. He was someone who was very dedicated to delivering services to his community and county and making things happen for improvement.”