Happy 121st Birthday to Gordon Parkhill
Written By: Nicole McBride
Date: August 28, 2023
Happy 121st birthday to Parkhill Founder Gordon Wight Parkhill! Gordon was born on August 29, 1902, in Paris, Tennessee. He was known by the nickname "Satch," was a family man, loved to travel, and was proud of the firm he helped create, Parkhill, Smith, and Cooper – Consulting Engineers in 1945.
Gordon graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M College, now Texas A&M University, in 1924. He worked for the Community Power and Light Company of St. Louis until 1932, when he joined the civil engineering teaching staff at Texas Technical College, now Texas Tech University. He served as a faculty member until 1942 and became an associate professor.
During World War II, Gordon designed airfields and pipelines and earned the rank of captain in the U.S. Army, where he served as a sanitation engineer. With the closing of World War II in 1945, Gordon decided to continue serving his community and partnered with Marlin Smith and Clarence Cooper to found Parkhill, Smith & Cooper – Consulting Engineers, now Parkhill.
The three friends allegedly decided on the name by flipping a coin to determine whose name would be listed first. Parkhill seemed to be the leader of the three, so it was suitable that his name was listed first.
In 1958, Gordon moved to El Paso to establish Parkhill's second location. He became the first firm president in 1963.
Gordon's study of the El Paso sewerage system formed the basis for a sewerage bond election. He also drafted the master plan for drainage in El Paso’s Lower Valley and worked on many contracts at Fort Bliss and other area military base installations. In 1965, Gordon was named El Paso's Engineer of the Year by the local chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers.
An article in the El Paso Herald-Post responded, "We graduates of Texas A&M have a custom at our annual musters of calling the names of departed comrades. Those of us who are present answer ‘here’ for those who have gone. Each of you can recall those who have helped you. At this time, I can answer ‘here’ for many who have helped me in my career. To them go my gratitude and my thanks for this high honor.”
Wastewater projects were said to be Gordon’s peak interest. Joe Cardenas, who worked with him in the El Paso office, said Gordon would enthusiastically call them his “bread and butter.” Another notable project includes the design and supervision of the first portion of the Jones Stadium at Texas Tech University and an expansion project in later years.
Gordon was honored for his military service with a ceremony and final resting place at Fort Bliss National Cemetary in El Paso, Texas.
Gordon Parkhill was said to always be seen in a suit coat, no matter where he visited and what the weather was like. Pictured here, he is visiting White Sands, NM.
Gordon Parkhill was a family man. This photograph was taken in Lubbock in 1957. At the time of his passing, he had 3 children, 10 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.