Patrick Parkinson, rambunctious ex-Park Record reporter, dies unexpectedly
Editor’s note: According to Patrick Parkinson’s family, the cause of his death was determined on Tuesday to have been a heart attack.
Patrick Parkinson, a rambunctious former Park Record reporter who covered Summit County during an era of upheaval, skillfully navigating the beat from the post-2002 Winter Olympic era through the recession, died unexpectedly last weekend.
He was 43 years old and living in Salt Lake at the time of his death. He lived in Park City during much of his tenure at The Park Record. He worked for the newspaper as the Summit County reporter from April of 2002 until March of 2011.
The Salt Lake City Police Department said it received the report of his death on Monday. The Police Department investigated the passing as an unattended death and said the investigation found nothing suspicious by Tuesday morning. (The cause was later determined to have been a heart attack.)
Parkinson was assigned the Summit County beat during an extraordinary period of growth, business intrigues and political changes. He covered County Courthouse elections at a time when voters scrapped the County Commission form of government and replaced it with a panel of County Councilors and a county manager. He was the lead reporter in other critical Summit County elections, including the first campaign of former Sheriff Dave Edmunds. Parkinson, meanwhile, also covered the dramatic arrival of the Talisker corporate family as the owner of Canyons Resort.
“Those of us who worked with Pat during his eight years in The Park Record newsroom will greatly miss his outsized personality, his raucous passion for debate and his commitment to community journalism. He both irritated and inspired us and was always looking for ways to champion the underserved by challenging local authorities,” Nan Chalat Noaker, the paper’s editor, said in a statement. “Pat was fiercely loyal to the paper and to each of his coworkers — even when he was arguing with us. He was a generous friend who adored his family and Utah’s beautiful mountains. We will do our best to honor him by keeping his outspoken spirit alive.”
Parkinson often peppered others in the office with questions about American politics and international affairs, starting what could became delicate discussions that included other Park Record staffers from outside the newsroom. He traveled extensively, including trips to Africa, and his tales of global adventures captivated the office.
As a reporter, Parkinson doggedly pursued the news of the day, showing up at someone’s house to ask questions or rushing to the scene of a crime or other sort of emergency.
“He was an honorable member of the press corps. That’s how I would describe him,” Edmunds said, recalling that Parkinson covered sensitive personnel issues involving the Sheriff’s Office. “He and I had a good give and take. He had a thick skin. Dealing with me, you’ve got to have a thick skin.”
Edmunds said he and Parkinson were “very forthright with each other.” They had a mutual respect even though they swore at each other at times, Edmunds said.
Bob Richer, a member of the County Commission during Parkinson’s time covering the County Courthouse, described him as “engaging.”
“He always had a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm,” Richer said. “Enthusiasm for the job, the community.”
Services will be held at the Lindquist Alumni Center at Weber State University, 1235 Village Drive, in Ogden, on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 5 p.m.
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How on earth will the Park City Council candidates address the traffic situation? What will they pledge to accomplish regarding housing? And how well do they understand the impact of the consolidation and corporatization of the ski industry? The fall campaign could answer those questions.