Sunday, May 03, 2009

Rick Parks @ The Mount Charleston Lodge

Two years ago I posted An "Ode to Rick Parks" where I talked about Rick 'The Center of the Universe' Parks complete with an old Westwood Studios video that he can be seen in. I forget how came up with that nickname 'Center of the Universe' for him, but it embarrassed him to no end.

For those of you not familiar with Rick, he was an artist who did a number of pictures on the Amiga and then began working at Westwood Studios as a video game artist. Here is a link to the Mickey Mouse Glass, but note that on an Amiga monitor you wouldn't be able to see all the pixel dithering, it just blended together. But it does prove that it was hand drawn, not scanned in. Here is another link to limited edition, signed prints for sale of "Park Avenue Evening" that Rick painted for a National Parks competition.

Sadly Rick passed away on April 16, 1996. I still remember being on the freeway, driving back into town when Mike called me on my cellphone to give me the news. I pulled over to the shoulder and sat there for a long time.

Anyway, since that posting I have gotten about half a dozen emails from people who knew Rick and it has been great hearing from everyone of them. For awhile now I had been wanting to create a Rick Parks fan page on Facebook, but after looking into it a few minutes ago, I decided against it. I'm not really an 'authorized representative' of the late, great, Rick Parks and Facebook would appear to frown on unauthorized pages of that nature. Oh well.

Rick Parks Mount Charleston Lodge Mural signatureHowever, one of the things I had done to prepare for the fan page was to take a drive up to the Mount Charleston Lodge ( - I removed the hyperlink because Avast tells me it found a trojan virus when I clicked on the 'special events' link on their page! Could be a false positive, but I'm not taking any chances.) and take a picture of the mural he had painted over the bar back in 1977. Click on the images for a larger version. You can still see his signature complete with the 'circle dot in the square' down on the lower left.

Rick Parks Mount Charleston Lodge MuralWhen I was a kid, my mother used to take me and my brother up to the lodge during the winter time where, after playing in the snow, we would sit around the fire pit thing that is in the middle of the room and drink hot chocolate under that mural. I remember thinking once if it was difficult to paint something like that because of all the ladders and stuff you would need. I don't remember if the stupid deer head was mounted smack in the middle of it back then or not. It was kind of a kick, to learn years later, that Rick had painted it. Another guy at Westwood had talked to the owner about it, saying he knew Rick. The guy didn't believe him and said that it was painted by, and I quote, "Some hippy kid."


Joseph B. Hewitt IV said...

By the way, if you are interested there is a Westwood Studios fan page on Facebook.

Also, Lands of Lore will be featured in Retro Gamer magazine, issue 65. I'll post more info when it comes out.

Ken Marschall said...

Hi Joseph,

I just stumbled across your two posts about Rick and want to thank you for them. Brings back so many memories. He was my oldest friend. We were born a week apart, in 1950, and I met him just before my 7th birthday, in 2nd grade. We were both fascinated by art and challenged each other creatively from then on.

He took me into Westwood twice for brief tours. Perhaps we even met. (I lived in Redondo Beach, CA... still do.)

One thing I remember about going up to the Lodge and seeing Rick's mural was that they had the Pong game standing near the entrance, as I recall. Wow, a video game of Pong, we thought. Think of the potential!

One correction to your write-up: You say that Rick died on April 16, 1996. It was actually December 15 of that year.

Long story behind that tragic event. Suffice to say that the docs found the leukemia very early during a routine blood test and said that he didn't have to undergo the debilitating and risky treatment right away (Chemo and marrow transplant). He could wait a while and remain under observation, take oral meds and whatever. But the longer he waited, the more “ill” he would become (he was not feeling ill yet at all), and the more complicated the transplant and recovery would likely be. But even so, they told him that there was no great rush; he could wait a bit as new treatments and technology were being developed all the time. This was maybe about June of '96.

Being Rick, he wanted to attack the issue head on, get the treatment over with, and put this behind him. The chemo and surgery were scheduled for that fall at UCLA.

He responded amazingly well to the initial chemo, surprising us all (and nurses, including his wife Pam) with his energy level, demonstrating some yoga-like moves next to his hospital bed, and so forth. He seemed to be doing great.

But eventually the effects got to him, and things went south. Although the donor marrow from one of his brothers was *almost* identical to his (the most desirable situation and best chance for pulling through successfully), he was inexplicably not recovering. Weeks and weeks dragged past. Terrible jaundice set in, hair loss (to be expected), organs were beginning to shut down.

Pam never left his side. She was a nurse herself and cared for him in every way she could, overseeing meds, dosages, and anything you can imagine.

I visited with him the afternoon before he passed. His family was all there. He was aware of us and could communicate, barely.

One bright spot during that awful last day was when Pam's sister Lynn hurriedly drove in from Vegas and brought his and Pam's two Dachshunds, Doc and Vienna, and sneaked them up to the room in a basket. (Maybe it was just one of the dogs.) Rick was visibly thrilled to see his pet(s) again after several months. It was so good to see him smile again.

The next morning I got the call. It was over.

Sorry to go on and on. First time I've ever written anything about this.

I'm very sorry to hear that Facebook won't allow a third-party tribute to someone. I'm not very Facebook-knowledgeable, but if you can get anything going, I will be happy to contribute as I am able.


Ken Marschall said...

Just realized... I don't know how you'd ever contact me if you wanted to. I can be reached through

All the best,