William Michael Parham, CEO of the Parham Group Companies went to be with his Lord November 18, 2014. United States Military Captain and Eagle Scout. He leaves behind his wife Ann Parham now CEO of the Parham Group Companies and President of Joshua Management, his daughter Rachel Parham President of Noah’s Ark Development, daughter Rebecca Parham, and son David Parham. He also leaves behind three companies filled with employees he considered part of his family. Although our founder has gone to be with our Lord, his principles, standards, and expectations for the self storage industry will live on through the Parham Group Companies and through the many he mentored. He will be missed and never forgotten.
One of Mike’s favorite quotes, which he lived his life by and had framed for the Parham Group conference room: “Excellence can be obtained if you care more than others think is wise, risk more than others think is safe, dream more than others think is practical, expect more than others think is possible.”
William Michael Parham passed away November 18, 2014. His memorial service was November 30, 2014. This is the Eulogy written and read by his loving wife Ann Parham.
I first met Michael when I was 17 years old and a Freshman in college. He was dating the girl down the hall and came over to my room to bum a cigarette. I liked him from the very moment I met him. He was friendly and full of enthusiasm and I thought kinda cute. He was the all American boy. Michael was an Eagle Scout and Vigil Member of the Order of the Arrow. He served as Area Vice Chief of the Nation. He spent his summers working at scout camp at Camp Kawakawa or canoe trek guiding out of Charlie L Summers canoe base in Eli, Minnesota. One summer he was the assistant aquatics director for the National Jamboree. Even as a teenager he was an overachiever and He lived the words of the Scout Oath and law. So in honor of my Eagle Scout and Vigil Order of the Arrow member I would like to recite the Scout Promise and Law.
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
And to obey the Scout law:
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
Mentally awake, and morally straight.
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,
Courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty,
Brave, clean and reverent.
Those are the words that Michael patterned his life after. He remained until the very end a Boy Scout. His success in Scouting enabled him to receive a four year ROTC Scholarship that was the only way he could have gone to college. He excelled throughout the ROTC program and graduated as a Distinguished Military Graduate. Only one was chosen each year. Michael continued his success in the military. Because of his high ranking in the Engineer Basic course, he was sent to Atomic Demolitions and Munitions school. He also attending Nuclear Target Analysis school and was then assigned to the 66th ADM Company at Fort Hood. He returned from his schools sporting a yellow T shirt with a red mushroom cloud with the phrase “Nuke ‘em till they glow” written underneath. His success in the nuclear field enabled him to be promoted to the Battalion S-4 in charge of Logistics and then as Company Commander of Charlie company after the current commander had been relieved. All of this was accomplished in four years. He left the Army as a Captain.
He started his civilian life as a project superintendent for a custom home and apartment developer in Dallas. He was promoted to President of the Construction in two years and ending up resigning over an issue with a lawsuit filed against a landscape subcontractor. Michael felt that the company was at fault, not the sub and he ended up giving up his job instead of lying about the situation. Forever the Boy Scout.
He ended up coming to San Antonio to work as President of Construction for Hendry Investments. This is where his education in self storage would begin. He admired John Hendry’s brilliance about development and also his integrity. He learned many business rules to live by. He to the day he died would not hire any subcontractor or superintendent who had an affair on his wife, he figured that if your own wife can’t trust you, he couldn’t either. As Hendry Investments began to slow in their construction Michael felt the pull to start his own company. He left Hendry Investments to start National Development Services. He partnered with Capco Steel who provided the steel. He and Charles became friends and business partners, but unfortunately they soon parted ways and took separate paths.
The rest they say is history and along the way Michael started Noah’s Ark Development, NDS Construction and Joshua Management. It was the complete package for self storage. He stood by the mantra that we will not build for a client if we do not think the project will work. He would always tell the client “I am not going to help you fail”. He felt that it would be harmful for the industry as a whole and that we all succeeded when everyone could succeed. He was primarily interested in educating people about the self storage industry, so that they could make good decisions regarding development. This is what we still live by today and will continue to live by as we move forward.
Many of you know Michael as a successful businessman but there are many things that you may not know about him.
Michael was a great musician. He could play any string instrument you handed to him and had a beautiful voice. He was a member of a gospel quartet and had the uncanny ability to harmonize with anyone. He will be truly missed in our family sing-a-longs.
Michael loved to Indian dance. Indian dancing was something he picked up in the Boy Scouts. Michael recently started attending Pow Wows and dancing again. He has an extensive collection of American Indian beadwork items and beautiful regalia of the American Indian. He admired their culture and their connection to God and His nature.
Michael loved to fish. He would rather fish than do anything else. He was taught to fly fish as a young boy by his grandfather on the lakes of Kentucky. His mother used to say that Michael would fish out the bathtub if he thought he could catch fish in it. It brought him closer to the great outdoors which he loved. He took three fishing trips to Alaska, one by himself, one with Rachel as a twelve year old and one with his Dad. He talked about what an awesome experience it was almost daily.
Michael loved Disney World. He really believed it was the happiest place on earth. It was where he could go to escape and play with his kids. He became like one of them and never tired of going. Our many trips to Disney every year, is the reason Michael started developing in Florida and he saw the growth in the area. It will be bittersweet to return to Disney and ride the rides that he loved. Every time we would go he believed everything had gotten bigger and better.
Michael was a minister in the Methodist Church. During the nineties Michael was a Local Pastor and was assigned the Methodist Church in Eagle Pass, Tx. With two little girls and a pregnant wife, he would drive 145 miles to Eagle Pass every weekend. The church had 8 blue haired ladies that were simply waiting out their time in the pews, until Michael got there. He showed them that there was a need in the community to serve the hungry and they began a feeding and clothing program for the poor. With renewed purpose, they began to see the true meaning of the gospel and discovered that your time to serve is never over. Michael did this every weekend for one year while still running NDS during the week. I don’t think we ever missed a weekend.
Michael loved the Lord. He was an unbelievable witness to the providence of our Lord and Savior. He believed that everything he owned first belonged to God and that he was merely a steward of it. He believed that he was blessed to bless other people. Michael gave literally hundreds of thousands of dollars to people in need. The earliest act of his generosity was when he was pastoring in south San Antonio and met a little boy named Andre. Andre was a Russian orphan who had been adopted by a New Zealand couple. Andre was born without ribs on one side of body and was sent to San Antonio to install titanium ribs in his left ribcage. Michael was visiting the grandson of a church member and met Andre’s mom in the waiting room. He listened to her story and prayed with her and then waited with her until Andre got out of surgery. It was at this time that Michael decided that the Lord brought Andre into is life for a reason. Without even being asked Michael paid for the hotel for Andres’ parents and negotiated a cash payment of $20,000 for the operation. We are still friends with Andre and his mom Pam. That was the beginning of the IHS Foundation that paid for numerous young people to go to college, helped out with many people’s medical bills, helped to buy cars, build churches, and even built a building for Bracken Christian School. My mother gave a portion of the money to build the building and Michael contributed the rest. He sent numerous kids to Christian camp every summer. Many benefited from his generosity and whenever he was thanked he would say “it’s not me, its God.” And there were times when I would make a statement about people not appreciating his generosity or not using the gift in the way it was given. He would wisely tell me that his job was to do as God directed him and what the people did with the gift was between them and God. Our obedience ended with the gift. I know that there are many of you here today that benefited from Michael’s obedience. I know that he would want you to help someone that God brings to you just as he helped you. My husband was generous sometimes to a fault but he never regretted helping people in need.
Michael was an unbelievable mentor. He saw potential in people when you yourself did not and he always expected each one of us to take the next step up. He loved to mentor young people and would hire them as interns and then later as employees. He would regret when they moved on but understood that they needed to sometimes move to meet their potential. He saw good in everyone. Sometimes being mentored by Michael was pretty tough because his expectations of you were high, most of the time higher than you thought of yourself. He would push, prod, encourage and sometimes berate. And then you would go to lunch! Yes, sometimes it was hard to be mentored by Michael. But the results were always good. Many of you here today are better for the boot camp that Michael put you through and have reached greater potential because he made you think you could. He never stopped believing in you no matter what you did. He was the perpetual cheerleader. He was also incredibly persistent and tenacious with a never give up attitude which made him the quintessential entrepreneur. Some of our developments took three years to come to fruition. He felt that those were the ones worth the effort.
Michael was an unbelievable father. His kids meant more to him than life itself and he threw himself into fatherhood with reckless abandonment. Just as he mentored everyone else, he mentored his own children. He always told them that “God made you perfect just the way you are” and “don’t be concerned about what others think about you, only be concerned about what God and you think about you”. All the kids grew up visiting construction sites and would love to go on “field trips” with their dad. He was the ultimate teacher and encourager. He had a separate and special relationship with each one. He stood in as a father to kids who weren’t even his just because they needed fathering and the kind of guidance and love only he could give. He set the standard high for my daughters on what type of man to marry as well as the ultimate role model for his son. He encouraged each one to find their passion in life and pursue it. When Rebecca said she wanted to be an animator, he said no problem and we set out finding the path to take to make her dreams come true. Not one of us had ever been an artist and couldn’t imagine having one in the family but he encouraged her along the way knowing that this was her dream. Today Becca is a computer animator with her own animation studio. When Rachel wanted to come to work in the family business he set about teaching her everything he knows. Since she is a true combination of myself and her dad, believe me, she is a force to be reckoned with. She rivals her Dad with her unbelievable ability to catch on to new concepts. Through many hours of up close and personal moments he imparted his knowledge and was beginning to feel comfortable about turning over the reins. As David started out to college, he encouraged him to find his niche. His encouragement and practical advice will be missed but David has had many hours of one on one time with his dad. There were trips to Colorado and Yellowstone and weekends of working the ranch together. He encouraged David on his walk with the Lord and will forever be a shining example of what man of God should be.
And finally, Michael was an awesome husband. We fell in love with both of us wearing fatigues and combat boots when women just didn’t do that. He never had a problem with me wanting to be in the military or excel in any career. He always gave me support no matter what I wanted to do. He viewed our marriage as a true partnership and I never doubted for one minute of my 38 years that he did not love me more than anything else in this world. And that is quite a comfort to have. He believed that the best gift you can give your children is to have a successful marriage. I came first over everything else, including him. For 38 years, no one made me love more, laugh harder, cry louder and get more pissed off than my husband. That is what a true relationship is all about. He was truly my very best friend.
And now the journey is at an end but the story is not over because he left such a powerful legacy. His life lives on in all of us that he touched and loved and helped. We are better to have known him.
And what to do now but move forward because that is what he would expect. He would tell us to get up and stop that crying and get to work because there are things to be done. My comfort is that I know where Michael is right now without a doubt. He is in Heaven, praising our Lord and Savior. He has reunited with all our loved ones and it will only be seconds to him before we are there.
In closing I encourage all of you to hold tight to your loved ones. You truly do not know the appointed time or place that you will be called home to Heaven. Ephesians 6:10-17 Finally, be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shoe your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.