Richard Francis Parkinson
Known as Mr. Jaycee, Mr. Alderman, Mr. Mayor and Mr. Okanagan, Dick Parkinson was best known as Mr. Regatta.
Born in Fairview, B.C. in 1901, the Parkinson family moved to Kelowna in 1906. In the 1920s, Dick sold Okanagan fruit and vegetables to the prairies, and he opened fruit wholesale houses in Calgary, Saskatoon and Regina. At the same time, his name was associated with sports in Kelowna, both as a player, coach and manager of several different teams. He also started the Junior Board of Trade, served as president of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, and in 1939 became the youngest member of Kelowna City Council at the age of 38. He also managed Crown Fruit Co., fruit packers and shippers.
After service in the army, he revived his interest in local politics and won a seat on Kelowna City Council again in 1948; he kept his seat until 1957. He became Mayor in 1958 and served until 1969. He focused on expanding the city’s boundaries, developing the airport and promoting the City as a convention destination. He also served four years as B.C. member of the National Capital Commission in Ottawa.
His interest in Regatta began in the years prior to 1920, but he didn’t formally become involved until 1932. He served as vice-president, president, and secretary-manager, tirelessly giving of his time to promote the aquatic festival which he loved and believed was so very important to Kelowna.
He was honoured with the Freedom of the City for his long service to the community in sports, politics and public events. Dick passed away in 1977 and in line with Dick's long standing interest in the Kelowna Regatta and the parks and recreation fields, the Parkinson Recreation Centre was named in his honour.