Bronze Medalist - AAPOS President, 1974-1975
The Marshall M. Parks Medal pays tribute to the legacy of a pediatric ophthalmologist, founder of the Children’s Eye Foundation and the visionary for the formation of AAPOS, whose lifelong quest was expert eye care for children, the elimination of preventable blindness and continuous innovation in the care of strabismus. The Parks Medal, minted in 2002, is an honor awarded by the Children’s Eye Foundation and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus to recognize outstanding achievement in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus. There are three levels of distinguished honor, including the Gold Medal category, which was only awarded to Dr. Marshall Parks to honor his legacy. The Silver Medal is pediatric ophthalmology’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, recognizing monumental contributions. Such contributions may involve basic research, clinical research, clinical care, educational activities, organizational activities, public health, or resource contributions.Bronze Medals are awarded to past presidents of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus and other individuals who have made noteworthy contributions to children’s eye care.
Born in Old Mission, Michigan, Dr. Parks was raised with three sisters and a twin brother. He was influenced by the strong and honest work ethic of his parents, Ruth and Reuben. He attended Illinois College and graduated from St. Louis University School of Medicine, and was inducted in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. In 1943, he entered the United States Navy during World War II, and proudly served as a medical officer on destroyers in the South Pacific Arena. He studied under mentor and associate Frank D. Costenbader, and together at Children’s Hospital of Washington, DC, they formalized the first fellowship-training program of any ophthalmology subspecialty. Up to 2017, the fellowship program has trained over 175 pediatric ophthalmologists who have amplified his teachings worldwide. Dr. Parks first entered ophthalmology in 1946 when ophthalmology subspecialties were non-existent. Concerned with the lack of specific sources of ophthalmic treatment for children, he expanded the pediatric ophthalmology program at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, while engaging in full-time private practices in Washington DC and Dallas, TX, training residents and fellows. The visionary for and a founding member of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) and the Children’s Eye Foundation, he was honored with numerous awards including the American Ophthalmological Society (AOS) Howe Medal and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Laureate Award. He was inducted into the Knights of Malta and voted by his peers as one of the ten most influential ophthalmologists of the millennium. The Marshall M. Parks Lecture, a named lecture at the annual AAO meeting, attests to the magnitude of his many national and international contributions. Dr. Parks served as President of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), first President of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS), founder and first President of the Costenbader Society, and member of the prestigious Squint Club. He presented 45 named lectures, authored 12 books, contributed chapters to 26 others, and had published over 75 papers. An astute speaker and generous teacher, he was in demand for his expertise in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus. As an innovator and pioneer, Dr. Parks’ seminal contributions include the diagnosis and treatment of strabismus and amblyopia, description of the monofixation syndrome, the benefits of early strabismus surgery, the management of infantile cataracts, and innovative surgical techniques. Many have benefitted immensely from his writings and teachings. Dr. Parks’ reserved gentlemanly manner did not reduce his effectiveness in strongly articulating his point of view for those seeking his opinion. Boundless energy, profound generosity of spirit, and vast wisdom contributed to the well-being of countless patients and professional lives. Lauded for kindness, warmth and a genuine concern for his small patients drawn to him from across the globe, yet humility defined him. His leadership and influence extends far beyond his specialty area even today. At the death of his identical twin Elvin at age 8, Dr. Parks vowed to live his life as if living for two. He truly accomplished his goal. When seeking personal restoration, he would retreat to ‘my sacred place’ in Belgrade Lakes, Maine, sharing it with his trainees and friends alike. Committed to faith, family and children, he and wife Angeline (d. 1989) raised eleven children. Widowed, he married stateswoman Martha McSteen of Dallas TX (d. 2016). To date, his progeny boasts 25 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.