I don’t have time to use this

Each day since we all learned the sad news of George Parks’s death, I’ve been overcome by all the memories, stories and testimonials to our friend George. Facebook truly brought our family together as we celebrate and mourn.

As you’ll see in the comments below, George was still getting the hang of Facebook. It took until this year for him to claim his “Facebook”, and maybe that was only after he learned of a George N Parks imposter. Or maybe it was lots of ribbing from Heidi Sarver ;-)

Let’s go back to the spring of 1994, well before Facebook and well before all of his emails, and certainly before all the emails to the band or band alumni list-serve. That semester, a couple of us sat GNP down in the band office in Chapel to set up his email. It was Ben DeLong, and a couple others who are lost in brain cells long gone and me. It took some dragging. He wasn’t ready, and I quote, “I don’t have time to use this.”

Apropos.

We told him it was the wave of the future. A new way to keep in contact with the many people in his life. You’d think George the tech geek would be all over it, with the old Osborne “laptop” he liked to show off in his basement, or the tank-like Zenith laptops the staff used… or worst of all, the dreaded dBase III program the BAND STILL USES TODAY ;-)

Anyway, we got his email up and running and set up in Eudora (who remembers that???). From there it was all over. He quickly became the email king, with all the replies to the group where he shouldn’t have replied ;-) How many of us experienced that? He was so embarrassed each time he did it, or was he??? Hmmmm.

George took to email just as he took to Facebook. It gave him access to all the faces and names and stories from 33 seasons and countless halftime shows and bus trips. It’s fitting that Facebook brings us all together to share these memories.

From January 13, 2010 to September 15, 2010 he connected with over 1,500 friends from his life. Here is a quote I think George might repeat today, seeing the over TEN THOUSAND friends leaving memorial wishes for him:

George Parks
is feeling guilty. I have seen so many great names flash before me on facebook during the last two weeks. We have shared many great moments over the years. I feel bad that I have not been able to chat with each of you. I just can’t keep up….sorry. But it has been great ‘seeing’ so many important people in my life. Thanks. gnp
February 2 at 10:59pm

Below are some early selections from GNP’s Facebook wall.

Heidi I Sarver
Well, that’s it. You now have more “friends” that I do. Facebook is no longer fun for me. :-((
March 13 at 5:25pm

George Parks
wrote something new in his status box AGAIN. Still not personal, but, at least I THINK it is all spelled correctly!
March 11 at 2:13pm

Michael Barron Aghajanian
Dear GNP… I miss the UMMB… -Michael
March 10 at 2:05am

George Parks
finds it difficult to keep updating this status thing. Not really comfortable sharing personal thoughts…oops, THAT’s too personal…gotta stop!@#$%^~@
March 9 at 7:43am via Mobile Web

George Parks
is feeling guilty. I have seen so many great names flash before me on facebook during the last two weeks. We have shared many great moments over the years. I feel bad that I have not been able to chat with each of you. I just can’t keep up….sorry. But it has been great ‘seeing’ so many important people in my life. Thanks. gnp
February 2 at 10:59pm

Courtney Beard
Okay…so I’m feeling a little competitive and seeing as I wasn’t able to participate in last weekend’s combat I think I’ll take it out here…people are talking about how many friends you’ve garnered on here…I have 742 currently. UMass Tubas have 1,514… Can you beat me this semester? Can you beat the Tubas? In what time frame?
January 27 at 10:31pm

Heather Hewitt Felder ‎
500 friends in one week?! I think we should all guess how many you will have in 1 year. My guess is 3597.
January 21 at 10:45pm

Martin Holahan
George Parks is now friends with everyone on facebook.
January 20 at 9:36am

Heidi I Sarver
Is there a particular reason you keep changing your FB name from “George Parks” to “George N Parks” and then again back to “George Parks?” It’s starting to bug me. And you know that ain’t a good thing. :-)
January 18 at 7:57pm

Carolyn Hitz Cansler
Hi George. Just writing on your wall… Tra la la…
January 16 at 7:58am

George Parks
Sorry I have not been able to personally chat with all the kind people who have ‘friended’ me. Off to conduct a music festival in New Hampshire tomorrow!……AND….THE BUILDING HAS GONE OUT TO BID!!!!!!
January 15 at 3:16pm

Heidi I Sarver
Welcome to hell–I suggest you try to get this organized before you have 3000 friends. DMA kids are going to “friend” you too….are you sure you want them to read all about your crazy high school and college antics?? 94 Friends in less than 24 hours—you’re going to break this thing and ruin it for the rest of us.
January 14 at 7:18am

Steve Pollino
Welcome to the MADNESS!! You are going to be Mr. Popular on here!!
January 13 at 8:27pm

I’m forever grateful to UMass staffers Laura Garcia, Amy Glynn, and Lisa Perlbinder, who is the wizard behind UMass Amherst’s social media effort and my former boss, for being able to set aside her own grief and promote and create the memorial page immediately following the news.