Roy H. Park was born in Dobson, N.C., on Sept. 15, 1910. He began his career as a correspondent for two weekly newspapers in western North Carolina at age 12. After graduating from Dobson High School, he worked his way through N.C. State University as a writer for the Associated Press in its Raleigh bureau. He was also publisher of the NCSU paper, The Technician.
After graduation, he became director of public relations for the N.C. Cotton Growers Cooperative Association. In 1940, he bought his first periodical, Cooperative Digest, and two years later moved to Ithaca, N.Y., to buy an advertising agency specializing in agricultural clients.
His next business venture led to the formation of Hines-Park Foods with partner and restaurant critic Duncan Hines. Hines-Park merged with Procter & Gamble in 1957, and Park served as a senior P&G executive until 1962.
In 1962, Park began his company, Park Communications, with the acquisition of WNCT-TV in Greenville, N.C. In 1977, he became the first broadcaster to acquire the then legal limit of seven television stations, seven AM radio stations and seven FM radio stations. He bought his first newspaper, the Daily Sun, in Warner Robins, Ga., in 1972.
Park was chairman of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees. He was also on the UNC-CH School of Journalism and Mass Communication Board of Visitors and the board of directors of its foundation.
In 1989, Park received the North Carolina Award, the state’s highest civilian honor, and Ithaca College dedicated its $12 million communications building in honor of him. He died in 1993.
In 1997, the Park Foundation of Ithaca, N.Y. bestowed a $5.3 million gift on the UNC-CH School of Journalism and Mass Communication. In the fall of that year, 24 Park Fellows, 12 master’s and 12 doctoral students were admitted to the school. Each student received an award equivalent to full tuition and fees. In addition, the master’s fellows will receive annual $10,000 stipends plus $4,000 over two years to help with the thesis, research, and travel expenses for conferences. Doctoral students receive annual stipends of $17,500 and $6,000 over the three-year program for dissertation and travel expenses.
Most relevant for the Library, the Park Foundation bestowed $1 million to equip a state-of-the-art journalism and mass communication library. The Park Library opened in 1999.
For more information about Roy H. Park, check out the biography written by his son, Roy H. Park, Jr.: Sons in the Shadow: Surviving the Family Business as an SOB, Son of the Boss. Oakland, OR: Elderberry Press, 2008.
Alumnus Roy H. Park Jr.was honored with University’s Davie Award in November, 2015. Read more and watch a tribute to Mr. Park by former Dean Richard Cole.