Family matriarch was 103
Gertrude Parks, the mother of former LAPD Chief and L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks, was laid to rest on Dec. 13, the family announced. She was 103.
Parks died Dec. 2 and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.
According to the family, when Bernard Parks joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1965, his mother predicted he would one day rise to become chief, which he did in 1997.
During her early days in Los Angeles, Gertrude Parks worked as a waitress at the Pig and Whistle restaurant and, later, at Norm's eatery on the Westside.
In order to secure and maintain her employment, the fair-skinned Parks would go along with her employers' belief that she was White, when she was actually Black, her family said.
In a 2015 documentary, Gertrude Parks was quoted as saying, “It really didn't bother me. ... I felt like I was getting something back from what they had taken from us. And we deserved whatever we had.''
Years later, she left restaurant work and learned to make hats, becoming a milliner at Bullocks Wilshire department store. She retired after several years.
Born in Morrow, La. in 1920, Gertrude Mary Parks was the oldest of four children. She later moved to Beaumont, Texas, and in 1944, the mother of four moved her family to Los Angeles due to the poor living conditions and racism in Texas, her family said.
She and husband, Earl, sent each of their children to Catholic schools in the L.A. area.
Gertrude Parks turned 103 on Oct. 30. Her mother also lived to be 103, and her grandmother lived to be 101, the family said.
She is preceded in death by Earl, who died in 2008. Survivors include children Agnes, Art, Cleo and Bernard. She was also a mother-in-law, a grandmother, a great-grandmother and a great-great grandmother.