It was February 16, 1987 when Gary Parks lost his life fighting a fire at Everett Community College’s Cascade Hall.  It was a 3-alarm fire that destroyed the library and student union building on EVCC’s campus, as well as the lives of Gary Parks’ family.  Not to mention the impact on the students and faculty and the Everett Fire Department that lost one of their own.

Thirty-four years later, there are finally some answers.  Without leads for decades, while not closing the investigation, the alleged arsonist is now in custody. The Snohomish County Prosecutor’s office today, filed murder charges against Elmer Nash Jr. in Snohomish County Superior Court.  He pleaded guilty.

“The fire destroyed the heart of the campus and has affected the college for generations,” EvCC President Daria Willis said, noting that the college’s logo was inspired by the three spires of the Feather Star sculpture, one of the only parts of Cascade Hall to survive the fire.

Years later a new Student Union Building stands.  EvCC replaced Cascade Hall in 1988 with the Gary Parks Student Union Building and John Terrey Library Media Center. A permanent memorial to Parks stands north of the building that carries his name. A bronze firefighter’s helmet and jacket sit on a bench.

The Park’s family now has some closure, while their work continues in memory of Gary Parks’ life.  The Parks family and his fellow firefighters created an EvCC Foundation scholarship in 2013 to honor Parks’ memory. The Gary Parks Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a student enrolled in EvCC’s Fire Science program. For more information about the scholarship, contact 425-388-9555.

Marcee Maylin has a degree in Editorial Journalism from the University of Washington and 30+ years media experience. She is currently the Editor of the Everett Post dedicated to providing current, relevant, and entertaining content for the local community.