NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A long-time Nacogdoches Wal-Mart employee who died Monday, is being remembered by co-workers and customers.
Howard Parks, 50, passed away due to complications from sores, infection and respiratory problems.
Parks worked in the electronics department as a sales floor associate at the Nacogdoches location for 20 years.
"We looked at him as our hero and he was our hero, he never gave up," said Gary Parks, Howard's brother.
Parks was paralyzed in a car accident in 1981 and spent the next 32 years in a wheelchair but never considered himself handicapped.
Angela Rowell worked with Parks for two decades. "He considered himself like all the rest of us. He never once let that slow him down or get in his way or bring him down."
Gary says Howard enjoyed helping people.
"I think that he would help anybody that he could," said Gary. "I don't think it would matter what kind of strain he put himself in, if he could help somebody he would."
And Parks loved his job at Wal-Mart.
"I feel like Howard is the Will Rogers of Wal-Mart," said Jimmy Blanton, a long-time co-worker and friend. "He never met a man he didn't like or a woman either."
It seems just about everybody met Parks at one time or another.
"Everybody in the store loved Howard," said Wal-Mart Shift Manager, Teresa Simon. "Customers would come in and look for Howard because they always knew he would brighten their day. It didn't matter what their day was it would be better."
Those who worked with Parks for years say he never stopped smiling.
"Howard always had that smile on his face," said co-worker, Michael Derr.
Derr also recalls the first time he met Parks, "Howard would always come over there and get what he would call his "smell good stuff", it was the air fresheners for his house, so that's how I met Howard."
"He liked to tell jokes," said Rowell. "He liked to be told jokes and we used to kind of spin him on two wheels on his wheelchair every once in a while going to the morning meetings."
Melissa Judd also worked with Parks for 20 years, "I don't remember him ever having a bad attitude about anything. Nothing. Ever. And there wasn't anybody that he didn't come across that he didn't like. He always remembered your face. He might not have remembered your name but he would remember your face."
"Everybody will always love him," said Simon.
Becky Hargis, a co-worker, says "He was friendly. Always telling jokes. He didn't meet a stranger."
Hargis says she's going to miss his smile and his kindness the most.
His friends and family say no one can ever take Howard's place in their hearts.
"He was always a friend. You could always depend on him to be here every day," said Blanton.
"He was a good brother," said Gary. "He's going to be definitely missed and speaking on behalf of my brothers and sisters, we all love him and we're going to miss him."
Parks even recalled a conversation he and his older brother Richard recently had about Howard, "My older brother and I were talking the other day at the hospital about how my dad brought him and Howard a car. [Richard] would wait and let Howard get the car cleaned and gassed up and it would be Richard's weekend to have the car, so Richard would take the car after Howard had done all the work, getting it cleaned and putting as in it so we were laughing about that, just some comical moments that we had together."
"He was special person," said Rowell. "There won't ever be anybody like Howard."
Sid Roberts Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.