By Eric Stevick and Ellen Dennis, Herald
Not long ago, the family of Gary Parks gathered to watch video that had recently been transferred from VHS to DVD.
They saw the vibrant image of the middle-aged, off-duty Everett firefighter. He was on his sailboat in the San Juan Islands, shucking oysters and smiling. Even the way he blew his nose had a certain humorous charm.
It was, according to court papers, the first time his widow, Kathy, and two daughters had heard his voice in the 34 years that have passed since Parks died in an intentionally set inferno that destroyed the Everett Community College library, cafeteria, restaurant and student union.
And it was the first time beyond photographs that his son-in-law and three grandchildren had glimpsed the man they heard so much about and learned to revere through family stories.
It was a bittersweet reminder of who he was and how much he is missed.
The family gathered again on Thursday afternoon in the Snohomish County Courthouse. This time, it was not to celebrate their loved one, but to describe to a judge the painful void his death left and to advocate for a long prison sentence for the arsonist. They were accompanied by friends and retired firefighters.
The man who set the fire was a 12-year-old boy on Feb. 16, 1987, when he dropped a lit match on books and papers dumped on the floor of the library.
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