In Our Prayers: The Reverend Dr. Harold F. Park
Dr. Park was born in Kannapolis, N. C. on February 19, 1921, to Reverend George Henry Calvin and Mary Ballentine Park. He grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, after some years in Gastonia, N.C and Orangeburg, S. C., places where his father was called to minister and lead Lutheran congregations. He graduated from Phillips High School in Birmingham in 1939.
Dr. Park earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Newberry College in 1943, graduating Magma Cum Laude. Having volunteered for the Navy’s V7 Naval Reserve program in October 1943 he attended Midshipman School at Northwestern University, Chicago, studying gunnery and navigation. He finished in the top ten percent of his class of over 600 men. Dr. Park completed graduate level course work at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In February 1945 he was assigned to the USS Amsterdam whose primary missions were protecting aircraft carriers whose planes were bombing Japan and guiding B-29 bombers to and from Japanese targets using radar. The Amsterdam escorted the battleship USS Missouri into Tokyo Bay and stood guard alongside as General of the Army Douglas MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945. In September 1950, Dr. Park was transferred to the Chaplaincy in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was honorably discharged in 1959 with the rank of lieutenant junior grade. He served in the Navy as a General Line Officer, a CIC Officer, a Radar Maintenance & Operations Officer, a Radar Operations Instructor and a member of the Chaplain Corps. His awards and decorations include the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. He was proud and grateful to be among other veterans on an Honor Flight to Washington, DC in 2011. He was escorted on this memorable trip by his three children.
While in the Navy, Dr. Park felt the call to become a pastor and subsequently earned his Master of Divinity at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in May 1949. He was called by the S.C. Lutheran Synod to be a mission developer and start a new church in the Forest Drive area of Columbia. Going door to door, he gathered new members who worshiped in the nearby Carolina Children’s Home for two years, ultimately forming the congregation of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. In 1951the church purchased 3 acres of property on Forest Drive where Good Shepherd continues to be an active congregation today.
In 1958 Dr. Park attended Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. There he entered its doctoral program and majored in Christian Education. At Princeton, he received two scholarships and was a Teaching Fellow in Christian Education. In 1961, Dr. Park became a Professor in Christian Education, Pastoral Theology and Church Administration at the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia. He retired in 1987 and was given the title Professor Emeritus. In 1975, Dr. Park was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Newberry College.
Dr. Park was an active volunteer all his life. He served as Interim or Supply Pastor for numerous Lutheran churches. He was a very involved member of Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Columbia for more than 50 years, serving as Sunday School and Confirmation class teacher, youth advisor, member of the Congregation Council, member of committees on Evangelism, Stewardship, Learning and Building. Dr. Park edited Stone of Help: A History of Ebenezer Lutheran Church. He volunteered with the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission and was instrumental in the creation and funding of Saluda Shoals Park and its Foundation. He was an active member of the Tanglefoots Square Dance Club and the American Legion Post 193. Previously Dr. Park was President of the S.C. Gerontological Society, Chairman of the S.C. Commission on Aging Advisory Council on Elder Affairs, Member and President of the Board of Trustees, Lutheridge Camp and Conference Center, and Board Member of the Eau Claire Community Project. He led and participated in many committees of the S.C. Lutheran Synod and led numerous retreats and workshops. Dr. Park loved to sing with the Newberry Singers as a college student and with the Dutch Fork Choral Society and the New Life Singers and other choirs at Ebenezer as an adult.
Dr. Park is survived by his wife, Betty Habenicht Park, whom he married on June 27, 1950; two sons and one daughter, Fred Park (Renée) of Arden, N.C., John Park (Susan) of Greenville, S.C. and Lois Park Mole (Craig) of Columbia, S.C.; three grandchildren, Bryan Park (Lauren), Ashley Park Twitchell (Mike) and Jennifer Park Croft (Chalmers); four great grandchildren, Maggie, Claire, Grace and Ava, sister-in-law Dorothy Park and many nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, he is predeceased by his brothers Conrad and Karl and sister Rachel Laughlin.
Memorials may be made to Ebenezer Lutheran Church, 1301 Richland Street, Columbia, S.C. 29201 or The Heritage at Lowman Subsidized Care Fund, Lutheran Homes of S.C. Foundation, 300 Ministry Drive, Irmo, S.C. 29063.
The family would especially like to thank and express its appreciation to BeWell Home Services and Lutheran Hospice for their care and services.
Almighty God, source of all mercy and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray, with those who mourn, that, casting all their sorrow on you, they may know the consolation of your love; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
– Prayer from the Lutheran Book of Worship
This is Christ’s Church. There is a place for you here.
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ELCA South Carolina Synod
1003 Richland Street
Columbia, SC 29201