“Little did we know that that guy behind the camera 10 years ago would play such a HUGE part in our family's lives. Not only was he a friend, but one of, if not the biggest fan and supporter of our girls both on and off the field.”
I was having a difficult time getting to sleep Monday night and found myself scrolling through Facebook during the late hours. That is when I stumbled upon those words written by Lisa Gilchrist.
I didn’t have to read any further. I knew exactly who she was talking about. COVID-19 had claimed another community treasure in Jeff Parkin. Parkin passed away Monday afternoon.
Who was Jeff Parkin?
Parkin was a 1974 graduate of Cambridge Springs High School who worked nearly 40 years at LORD Corporation in his hometown, coached Little Gridders football and youth baseball/softball throughout the years and loved to fish.
Most people know Parkin as the guy who seemed to pop up everywhere, camera in tow, ready to capture as many memories as he could. He was “The Memory Master.”
“He called himself The Memory Master and he was a true Memory Master,” said Cambridge Springs head softball coach Angie Mumford. “He captured so many special moments of my teams and my daughter and I and all the momentous occasions for so many athletes.”
“With tears in my eyes,” Mumford said.
“I keep thinking back to when Kayla Parkin (Jeff’s niece) convinced him to come out of retirement and start taking pictures again,” Mumford continued. “He caught moments I would have missed.”
“I loved that he made it nice for the parents to watch the game knowing he was there to get pictures,” said Olivia Berroth. Berroth’s daughter, Carly, plays for the Cambridge Springs Crush, a team Parkin spent a lot of time shooting over the years.
“I loved his post and highlights he posted on Facebook keeping us all updated on the local sporting events. He was always there just like he was a part of the team; like family.”
What many may not know is Parkin did all of this for no other reason than to give those memories to the athletes. He accepted very little in the way of compensation if anything at all.
“He barely covered his cost and then donated his time back,” Mumford said. “And then he’d show up at banquets bearing gifts for the kids.”
And while the Cambridge Springs native did spend a lot of time at his alma mater as well as Union City and Corry, no place was really too far for Parkin when it came to following athletes. He traveled all over.
“This man would travel the countryside for a measly $5 and some homemade deer bologna (and) spend 12 hours straight in 90 plus degree weather just to capture our girls doing what they loved,” Gilchrist wrote.
“It wasn't about the money, it was his LOVE for the game and giving back to these athletes what the game once gave him. Our girls will forever look for the man in the green hat with the camera … We will forever cherish the memories he captured for us.
“We say goodbye for now knowing that he loved his family,” Parkin’s son, Steve, wrote. “He loved all of his kids. He loved his grandchildren. He loved the kids he coached and photographed and the people that he worked with. He loved almost everybody he came to know. And based on the avalanche of people who have reached out with their own memories and stories of our dad since he fell sick and has now passed, I’d say that a lot of people loved him back.
“What else could you ask for in a life?”
The Memory Master will surely be missed.