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Dr. Donald B. Parks

November 2, 1950 April 22, 2021
Dr. Donald  B. Parks
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Obituary for Dr. Donald B. Parks

Donald Bruce Parks, M.D. was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 2, 1950, the second son of Robert Dewitt Parks and Bertha Brown. As a child, he attended Catholic schools and enjoyed seeing movies on the weekends with his older brother Joseph. Around the age of 15, Donald met Dr. Richard P. Baker, a pathologist at Misericordia Hospital, who recognized Donald’s intelligence and work ethic and took the young man under his wing. Donald looked up to Dr. Baker and started working in the pathology lab cleaning test tubes. Donald graduated from West Catholic Boys School in 1968 and it was at that time he decided he would like to become a doctor.

He began his undergraduate studies at Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina and completed his Bachelor of Science degree at Temple University in 1972. Throughout his undergraduate years, he worked as an orderly at Misericordia Hospital where he met Sharon Simpkins. They married on June 22, 1974. Three children were born to this union, Laurie Marie (Jim), Donald Drew (Sakina) and Sharon Candace. His family was the center of his happiness.

Dr. Baker and pediatrician Dr. Allen Chandler were instrumental in supporting Donald’s matriculation to Jefferson Medical College for his advanced studies. Donald graduated from Jefferson Medical College in 1978 and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Philadelphia. He then accepted a position at GlaxoSmithKline in research and development. While at GSK, Donald was responsible for the development of several pharmaceutical drugs. He is credited with over 20 scientific publications and an extensive bibliography, including numerous articles on drug development. He also authored several articles on minority physicians and their contributions to medicine. After leaving GSK, he worked in the family medical practice of his longtime mentor Dr. E.L. Clark.

This experience prompted Donald to found his namesake practice in the early 1980s, Parkstone Medical Associates located in the heart of North Philadelphia. Over the next 40 years, he built a robust practice caring for his community. Donald loved his patients and, true to his lifelong work ethic, practiced medicine until his last days. He will be dearly missed by his beloved staff members who worked with him for decades: Catherine Bratcher (35 years), Jonah Lewis (32 years), Robert Davenport (30 years) and Tamarra Jackson-Hawes (27 years).

Donald credited his wife with his success, and together they shared his many accolades. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter recognized Donald for his contributions to community improvement. He was also the recipient of awards including the 1992 Exemplar Award, NAACP; the 1996 Pan African Studies Award, Temple University; the 1997 Practitioner of the Year Award, Philadelphia County Medical Society; the 2016 Humanitarian Award, Philadelphia Alumni Chapter Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and the 2018 History Maker Award, Philadelphia Tribune.

A pillar in the community, Donald and Sharon opened a facility in 1987 to house and provide services for the homeless, mentally ill/impaired, and formerly incarcerated. While managing his boarding home and private practice, Donald worked tirelessly in many other roles to improve the health and well-being of those in North Philadelphia and beyond, including Associate Professor of Community Medicine and Assistant Dean for Minority Affairs at Temple University School of Medicine, Medical Director of the Temple Health Connection, and Associate Medical Director of Temple Physicians Inc.

Donald also held many other leadership positions including Trustee Emeritus, Morehouse School of Medicine; Board Member, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Member, Board of Governors at Temple University Hospital; Chair, North Philadelphia Physicians Initiatives; Chair, Philadelphia Award (2009); Fellow, American College of Physicians and Member, Admissions Committee Temple University School of Medicine. He was also a member of Sigma Pi Phi Boule, Alpha Chapter, where he served as Grammateus.

In addition to his professional commitments and family life, he actively mentored countless young medical professionals and served as a shining example of how a Black man from humble beginnings could make something of himself, excelling in business and in life. His love of his culture was on full display in his office where he showcased his fantastic collection of Black pop culture memorabilia. Artfully curated over the years, he recently donated the collection in its entirety to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History & Culture in Baltimore.

Donald was truly one of a kind. He was the best kind of friend - loyal and true and always willing to help. He had a penchant for making friends, often in unlikely situations and from all walks of life, which meant he had a connection for everything. That powerful ability to connect, mixed with his rare and abundant capacity for empathy, made his friendship very special. Those who knew him best relished his unique sense of humor.

The true joy of his life was his wife Sharon, to whom he was married for almost 47 years, until his death. They shared a wonderful and enduring love which saw them through life’s ups and downs. Their best moments were spent traveling to Europe, collecting antiques and enjoying fine dining. They also cherished summers spent with family and close friends on Martha’s Vineyard.

Predeceased by his parents, Donald is survived by his brother, his nephew Courtney, his loving wife, their daughters and son, and their four grandchildren: Amir, Ava, Adam and James. He will be deeply missed by all.

Donald died at his home on Thursday, April 22, 2021 surrounded by family.

A celebration of Dr. Donald's life will occur on

Friday, April 30, 2021

St. Patrick Catholic Church
242 South 20th Street
Philadelphia, Pa. 19103


Homegoing Service: 10:00 a.m.

We request family and friends who prefer
to send plants or flowers,
to coordinate with one of the
following reliable local florists:..

June's Floral Design: (267) 376-7621
Overhill Flowers: (215 ) 473-1842
Simply Floral: ( 610) 622-7980

Have the florist deliver
your selection
to the church no
later than 8:30 a.m.
the day of the service.


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Cemetery Details


West Laurel Hill Cemetery Final Resting Place

225 Belmont Avenue
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

225 Belmont Avenue Bala Cynwyd 19004 PA
United States

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