Bellefontaine Examiner

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Dr. James F. Park


Dr. James F. Park, 78, died Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Wash.

He was born in Bellefontaine on June 4, 1934, a son of the late Franklyn Albert and Lola Mae Park.

In 1961, he moved to Richland, Wash., with his wife, Joanne, and his daughter, Jill, after graduating from The Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine. He was recruited to work in the biology department of the General Electric Company’s Hanford Laboratories, with scientists doing research on the potential health effects of inhaling radioactive materials. Little did he know then that his life’s work would begin and culminate here.

One of his first contributions was to develop the first specific pathogen-free beagle colony for health effects research in radiation biology. As the years passed, he was the principal investigator or co-investigator on many life span dose-related effects studies for various agents. He was a major participant in the first studies demonstrating that inhaled plutonium-238 oxide is much more soluble in the lungs than plutonium-239 oxide. This is one of the seminal pieces of work in the field and was a significant contribution to the safe use of plutonium-238 as a power source in U.S. space missions.

He became the associate department manager of the Battelle/PNL Biology and Chemistry Department, where he led a research team of outstanding scientists who did some of the pioneering work on health effects of cigarette smoke, high voltage electric power lines, and solvent refined coal, to name a few.

His colleagues have characterized him as “an outstanding scientist who never settled for less than the highest quality achievable,” “an outstanding veterinarian who ensured the highest standards of humane and ethical care for our experimental animals,” “a mentor and professional inspiration,” “a rare even-handed leader during tough times,” and “a good friend, valued colleague and superior scientific collaborator.”

Dr. Park’s first wife passed away in 1977. In 1981, he married Cheryl Park and they enjoyed many happy years together.

In 1993 he suffered a stroke that left him disabled and he was forced to retire earlier than he would have wanted. He weathered through very serious health challenges for so many years that amazed his friends and family and he demonstrated a resiliency and courage not found in many people.  

In the early years of Dr. Park’s retirement, he attended technical communications classes at Seattle Central Community College. He was also involved with the Washington State University Cooperative Extension and earned a certificate as a volunteer livestock adviser.

Dr. Park participated in his retirement community’s on-site religious services, served one year on the residents’ council and he read aloud to the vision-impaired residents. He shared with his family that he found that service in particular very rewarding for him. He renewed his past skills at playing bridge and shooting pool. He would often greet people by letting them know he had a joke for them. He enjoyed planting flowers in the residents’ above-ground garden boxes.

He was an avid Ohio State Buckeye football fan. He always made a point to know the schedule for the televised games. He enjoyed attending his grandchildren’s sporting events and graduations.   

Dr. Park is survived by his brother, Larry (Judy) Park of Bellefontaine; daughter, Jill Fraley of Mill Creek, Wash.; son, Greg (Melissa) of Bakersfield, Calif.; daughter, Janet Park of Richland, Wash.; son, Ken Park of White Salmon, Wash.; stepdaughter, Andrea Welvaert of White Salmon, Wash.; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

He was preceded in death by a grandson, Patrick Fraley.

A memorial service is at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Memories at Sunset Event Center, Sunset Memorial Gardens, Richland, Wash., with a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Pet Partners,; and The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Fund Number: 302404.

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