The Rev. Robert Ray Parks, establisher of Trinity Grants, dies at 91

October 20, 2009

The Rev. Robert Ray Parks, 15th rector of Trinity Church on Wall Street, died on Oct. 18 in New York City. He was 91.

Parks served as rector of Trinity Church from 1972-1987, a period of both diminishment and growth for the parish. His leadership established the Trinity Grants Program, which in its four-decade history has provided more than $80 million throughout New York City and the world to improve the quality of people's lives.

Parks was also instrumental in furthering the development of Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum at 155th Street and Broadway, which continues to be the only active cemetery in Manhattan and the resting place of John J. Audubon and Clement Clark Moore, among others.

At the start of Parks' tenure, Trinity was still known as the "mother church" of the Episcopal Church, building and nurturing chapels in New York City as needed over the centuries. As part of his mandate to implement changes in the corporate structure of the parish, in 1976 Trinity divested itself of the chapels of St. Luke's, St. Augustine and Intercession.

Prior to becoming the rector of Trinity, Parks was the dean of St. John's Cathedral in Jacksonville, Florida, from 1960 to 1971, where he was instrumental in building church-sponsored low-income housing and hospital facilities for the elderly. He revived the cathedral as a house of worship, cofounded the Jacksonville Episcopal School and established the Cathedral Health and Rehabilitation Center, which was at the time the only rehabilitation hospital in northern Florida. Parks also served as rector of St. Paul's by-the-Sea in Jacksonville and St. Paul's in Quincy, Florida.

A graduate of the University of Florida, Parks received a bachelor of divinity degree from the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewannee, Tennessee, and a doctorate of divinity from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is survived by his wife, the former Nancy Lamar Bostick, of New York; his sons Benjamin of Summit, New Jersey and John of Briarcliff Manor, New York; and four grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held October 24 at 2 p.m. at Trinity Church; internment will be in Trinity Churchyard.

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