Dorothy Dent Park, longtime supporter of Ithaca College, died June 18 in her Cayuga Heights home at the age of 103.
She and her husband, Roy H. Park — after whom the Roy H. Park School of Communications was named in 1989 — founded the Park Foundation in 1966, which has funded many projects at the college, in the community and across the nation. Roy H. Park also served as chair of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees from 1981 to 1992.
When her husband died in 1993, Dorothy Park became the president of the Park Foundation, steering it to support educational, environmental and social causes.
President Tom Rochon issued an announcement of her passing to the campus community June 21, highlighting Park’s major contributions to the college throughout her lifetime.
Park School Dean Diane Gayeski said although she only met Park once at the Park Scholar 10th anniversary dinner, she immediately observed her kindness and her passion for education.
“She was the most charming and inspiring person, and she was clearly someone who got a great deal of pleasure out of seeing young people pursue their education and their career dreams,” Gayeski said. “She was the kind of person in conversation who was very observant of others and always found ways to compliment and encourage them. I saw that through both her social interactions with students at that dinner and with her legacy of giving to Ithaca College.”
Gayeski said Park was instrumental in naming the Roy H. Park School of Communications after her husband. Additionally, she was a principal donor for and involved in the planning of the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise, which was the nation’s first sustainably designed and LEED Platinum facility for an undergraduate business program. The Park Foundation also provides funding for the Park Scholar program, the Park Center for Independent Media, the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, and ongoing investments toward purchasing new equipment and technology for the Park School.
“It’s been these transformative gifts through the Park family that have really put us on the map,” Gayeski said.
Under Park’s guidance, the Park Foundation has also contributed to other major colleges and universities, such as North Carolina State University and Cornell University. Within the Ithaca community, she helped provide funding for one of the country’s first no-kill animal shelters, the Ithaca Free Clinic, a new headquarters for the Tompkins County Library, a new organ for the First Presbyterian Church of Ithaca and a merry-go-round at Stewart Park.
A celebration of her life will be held at 1 p.m. June 30 at the First Presbyterian Church, 315 N. Cayuga St. in Ithaca. Park is survived by her children, Roy H. Park Jr. and Adelaide Gomer; three grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.