Sunday, December the 16th, marked the memorial service of bodybuilding great, Reg Park, with a day of recognition and respect for a man who has contributed much to physical, and popular culture, a man who has inspired the world with his devotion to strength training and healthy living.
Although he passed away on November 22, Reg will live on in the hearts and minds of those he influenced, many of which attended his memorial service held at the Fairmount Miramar Hotel, Santa Monica, this past Sunday. Among those in attendance was 1983 Mr. Olympia Samir Bannout who paid his respects to the great Reg Park, along with many others from the both the bodybuilding and non-iron community.
According to Samir who recently shared his thoughts on this special occasion with me, those in attendance from the bodybuilding/health and fitness community included: Arnold Schwarzenegger (who was host) and his wife Maria Shriver, Franco Columbu, Lou and Carla Ferigno, Dave Draper, Boyer Coe, Zabo Koszewski, Eddy Giuliani, Ironman magazine's John Balik and family, Lonnie Teper, Jerry Brainium, and Peter McGough and Shawn Perine from Flex and Muscle & Fitness Magazines.
Click Image To Enlarge.Samir And Peter McGough
From Muscle And FitnessPhoto Provided By Samir Bannout.
Given Reg Park's contribution to bodybuilding, and health and fitness, it was no surprise that everyone who was anyone in the industry turned out to pay their respects to the drug free champion who crafted his body the hard way.
Samir, himself a lifetime fan of Reg Park, felt it was a wonderful occasion and was touched by the speeches given and the general level of emotion felt by all in attendance. Says Samir: "Jon Jon Park told some very emotional stories about his late father Reg and Arnold talked about his memories of Reg. Franco even spoke from the podium and had some interesting and entertaining things to say about Reg. It was a very nice day and a great service for Reg."
Click Image To Enlarge.Big Lou Ferrigno Arrives.Photo Provided By Samir Bannout.
What follows are exclusive photos of the occasion taken by Samir along with key speeches provided by Reg's beautiful wife Mareon, son Jon Jon, daughter Jeunesse and the man he influenced all those years back, Governor of California, the great Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Reg Park: 7 June, 1928 - 22 November, 2007 - may he rest in peace
Reg Park Memorial Service Tributes
When I think of everything Reg Park meant to me over a friendship that lasted more than 40 years, I am still blown away.
I was a 15-year-old farm kid growing up in Austria when I was first inspired by a bodybuilding magazine with a picture of him on the cover from one of his Hercules movies. My life was never the same. He was so powerful and rugged-looking that I decided right then and there I wanted to be a bodybuilder, another Reg Park. I could not have picked a better hero to inspire me.
Reg went from bodybuilding to the movies. He became a smart and successful businessman, and he was the first person who gave me a glimpse of what my life could someday become if I dreamed big and worked hard.
Click Image To Enlarge.Arnold Schwarzenegger And Maria
Shriver Watch The ProceedingsPhoto Provided By Samir Bannout
I devoured every article about him I could find in German. If they were in English, a friend translated them for me. I pasted his pictures all over my bedroom wall. I watched his movies over and over again. I learned his training regimen and tried to copy everything he did.
Inspired by his example, I was working harder and harder and starting to have great success as a young bodybuilder. Then in 1966, in a gym in East London, my greatest dream came true. Wag Bennett, whose gym it was, arranged to have Reg and I work out and pose on the same day.
I will never forget it. It was a cold winter day. Reg had just arrived from South Africa and he looked so classy in neatly pressed slacks, a dress shirt and a thin sweater. I had a million questions to ask him, which was pretty hard to do because my English was not very strong back then.
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But it didn't matter. We bonded right then and there and found a way to communicate. And meeting him was a real wake up call. I had a great work ethic and trained harder than any of my bodybuilding friends. But when I saw how hard he trained and how much weight he used, I was stunned. He was at a whole other level, and I knew if I wanted to be a true champion, I would really have to step up my workouts.
Then I was lucky enough to do some exhibitions with him in England and Ireland and we became great pals. He took me under his wing and became a real father figure and mentor.
Click Image To Enlarge.Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Arrives Photo Provided By Samir Bannout.
He was so generous with his time and knowledge, telling me everything he knew about training, diet, discipline, how to work all the different muscles. It was like a graduate seminar in advanced bodybuilding. And the next thing I knew Reg invited me to come and stay with him in South Africa, to train, put on more exhibitions and just hang out. Can you imagine what that felt like to me?
I had finally met and worked out with my boyhood hero, and then he invites me to come stay with him and his family. This was as big a thrill to me as making my Terminator movies. Hanging out with Reg, my boyhood idol - it was surreal. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming.
I realized very fast that I was not dreaming because Reg didn't let me sleep. He woke me up every morning at 4:30 for breakfast so we could get to the gym by 5 for our first two-hour workout of the day. I will never forget those 1,000-pound calve raises he made me do first thing in the morning. And everyday it was the same breakfast. Corn flakes. Some people sprinkle sugar over them. Reg covered his with milk and protein powder, then it was off to the gym.
Click Image To Enlarge.Reg Park, Arnold And Mareon Park.
When we weren't training, we were hanging out at his pool, going to dinner with his amazing wife, Mareon and their two fantastic kids, Jon-Jon and Jeunesse. They made me part of the family and that's how Reg inspired me in ways that had nothing to do with bodybuilding.
I saw what a loving, doting father he was to Jon Jon and Jeunesse. I saw what a devoted husband he was to Mareon, his incredible wife of more than 50 years. She treated me like another son, and she is a jewel to this day.
I didn't grow up in that kind of environment and it had a tremendous effect on me. Seeing him so free with his hugs and kisses and affection, I realized that's the kind of father and husband I wanted to be. By example, he showed me what a truly full and successful life looked like.
Click Image To Enlarge.Reg With A Young Arnold.
And no matter where our careers took us, we always stayed in touch. And he was the greatest support and friend. Whenever I won a competition, later in my life when I made movies, and certainly when I was elected Governor of California, Reg was always there with a phone call or a warm letter. Always ready to pump me up and congratulate me. To inspire me to do even more.
I know he was proud of my success. He had an awful lot to do with it, and I am very happy that he got to experience so much of it with me.
Click Image To Enlarge.Reg Park And Arnold.
It was a special highlight for me to see him each year at the Arnold Classic, and he always had a ball. He loved how it grew and became such a big event. And at the Arnold Classic 2007, I got another great thrill when I presented our lifetime achievement award to the man who has meant so much to me over my lifetime.
I will always miss and love Reg, as will the worldwide bodybuilding community and anyone who was lucky enough to know him. (1)
To speak about Reg, the love of my life, to talk about our fairy tale marriage and life together, is too, too upsetting and sad for me. Our lovely daughter Jeunesse has agreed to read this for me.
Reg always said, "I love that I cannot find anything not to love about you. I love loving you as much as I do. You are my wife, you are my life. I love you dearly and I thank you for our beautiful children and grandchildren. I feel love in your eyes, your touch, your smile, in all you do and your warmth and tenderness. You deserve happiness every day."
Click Image To Enlarge.Reg Park.
Reg truly cared about people. He was kind, had great humility and helped so many people all over the world. He wanted to help and encourage people to have a healthy mind and body.
He was sincere and a real gentleman with a gentle soul as big and strong as he was. He said, "My work makes me smile. I love what I do and when I am able to help my clients who have injuries or illness I feel great and of course I like that they enjoy being in the gym."
He never spoke about his magnificent physique. He was a special and real man who will be sorely missed by thousands of people all over the world. It is impossible for me to praise my great wonderful Reg enough.
Reg had a great sense of style and a hidden talent not many knew about. Besides a wonderful speaking voice he also had a superb singing voice and would often sing the music we will hear today in the middle of the night. A true romantic...
Reg, my beloved soul mate, you will ever live in my heart. (1)
Reg taught me to live for the moment, that I could do anything I wanted to do with focus and hard work, and to always be positive. To grow up with his and Mareon's love and to experience his huge life first hand is a blessing for which I am eternally grateful.
Reg's influence on me, and all of us, has forged our lives. We are here today to give thanks to this great human being, to share our love and memories of him and, mainly, to celebrate his life.
During the depression, when he was around 9 or 10, he was sent to live with his grandparents, who he called Little Dad and Little Mam. They lived an austere life in the coal-mining town of South Elmsell, where mining disasters were a regular occurrence. They boiled water on a coal fire to bathe and used a toilet down the block.
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Little Dad was a coal miner who had suffered from TB and was gassed during the war, but recovered from both and maintained his strength, humor and love of sport.
As Reg wrote:
"Little Dad had a most profound affect on my life. The simple and basic daily lifestyle was so filled with sincere and hard, honest endeavor. Their love, warmth, care and basic values inspired and influenced me in so many ways - my Little Dad will ever be my hero. He had hardly any education in spite of which he was an avid reader; he was a keen gardener and a very open minded, non-judgmental person with a great sense of humour. Even as a small boy I regained the fact that in spite of all the adversity in his life, he was an exceptional man. I felt great tenderness and compassion for him. I inherited my total passion for sport from him for which I am eternally grateful."
We all know what that led to.
Click Image To Enlarge.Reg Park Winning The 1951 Mr. Universe.
The past eight months, from when Reg was diagnosed, have been extremely hard. For me the irony is great. He came to South Africa for the vast skies and the sun. It was the sun that brought him down in the end. For a man who was never ill and honored the body so much it was even harder, and at times I could see the bewilderment in his beautiful blue eyes as this terrible disease ravaged his body.
He was brave, dismissed a lot of the indignity and pain and was positive throughout. He cared deeply for all the family, friends and fans who surrounded him in this time. He died with the dignity and grace that he lived with. He had resigned himself to passing and said goodbye to us all in his own way once he was comfortable that we were all fine.
The last thing he wrote was, "The years have passed rapidly and here I am in 2007 closing my biography. It pleases me considerably to know that the Park name lives on in capable bodies."
He goes on to write with pride of my dedication to the environment and caring for those less fortunate. He talks of Jon Jon and his six grandchildren with great love. And it is his love that endures... He loved Nature Boy and sang it to us often in his exquisite deep voice...
Thank you Mareon for being the tower of strength and the well of love that held our family together all through the years.
Thank you Gavin for your love of Reg and our family and your huge generosity in hosting Mareon and Reg's 50th anniversary and the memorial gathering, and all else in between, not least your gift of light and humor, which Reg loved so much.
Click Image To Enlarge.Reg Park Winning The 1951 Mr. Universe.
Thank you Frik. You know how Reg grew to love you and admire your strength and was reassured that I have a real man in my life.
Thank you to Robbie, the three Basils, Keith, Bernard, Mareon's wonderful cousins and all the other friends, clients and family (too many to mention) who visited and gave and are giving us so much support daily. Thank you to Mark Oliver and all the medics who tried hard and were all inspired by Reg. Thank you also to Fanboy, Shaun and Webster who were there to help Reg at the end and continue to help Mareon.
Jon Jon Park
Reg - The Legend - the one that we all love. It really is a blessing to have come from such a good soul. Reg was my father for the first years of my life and for always. He is the magic that makes the world turn. I really hurt and it saddens me that he is no longer here in the physical form though I do know and feel that he is out there in the skies, in our eyes and a part of our lives. I love you so much Reg.
Love Tamarac (first grandson) - Reg said he is so handsome and has a most beautiful body. My last words to Reg were: "You made my life and I love you." Reg and Mareon's romance is a fairy tale that taught me how to love.
To Reg's grandchildren he was and always will be more than just a man. He is the iconic figure that the whole family aspires to be. While many see Reg as a man of great strength, we saw him as a man of great love. Reg was always interested in and concerned in all our lives and managed to instill a great sense of awareness in each of us.
Click Image To Enlarge.Samir Bannout And Jon Jon ParkPhoto Provided By Samir Bannout.
We are eternally grateful that we were able to bask in the presence of such a legend and humanitarian, not only to have been taught by him but, more importantly, to have been loved by him. We will pass the lessons he taught us onto our own children and grandchildren. Reg will be eternally missed. Kaya and Travis, younger grandsons. Thanks to Kaya for being with him daily this year.
I know today is extremely upsetting, but Reg was a strong man and he would have wanted us to be strong. Reg will always be with us in our hearts and souls. I hope everybody and everything is okay there. I miss you all so much. Me and mommy really wanted to be there, we are upset we can't be there with all of you.
Reg you will always be my hero! Rest in peace Regie! Bye everyone!
Love from LA, Savy
A Message From Reg Shortly Before His Passing
Click Image To Enlarge.Reg Park And Wife Mareon Park.
The BB.com Forum Pays Tribute To Reg Park
- R.I.P. - Reg Park. - Started By JoeyRock
"Noted as one of the strongest bodybuilders of his era, Reg played Hercules and other legends of might in a movie career that spanned the mid-1960s. In 1970, he lost a close-fought battle for the Mr. Universe crown to his protege the Austrian Oak. Reg was Mr. Universe in 1951, 1958 and 1965. He remains one of the great legends of bodybuilding and an inspiration to strength athletes past and present."
- Reg Park Appreciation Thread [R.I.P] - Started By Dariusz K.
"With the recent death of this legendary father of bodybuilding, I thought it would be appropriate that Reg receive his own thread of appreciation for his accomplishments in fitness and life. Pictures and info about Reg are welcome in this thread."
- Reg Park A Legend In Passing. - Started By Dallas68
"Friday 22 2007. The life and inspiration that is Reg Park has ended, my condolences to his family at this tough time. 79 years of age. he lived strong."
- A Legend Passes R.I.P. Reg Park! - Started By GO BIG
"I had the honour and pleasure of meeting Reg while writing for M magazine in South Africa, he had a way of taking anyone under his wing and spoke to us with a fatherly caring. I still regularly train with movements shown to me by Reg that have improved my physique immeasurably. May his dear departed soul rest in peace."
- Reg Park Passes On. - Started By punksurfer024
"in case you didnt hear there was a thread started in the IFBB pro section and there is an article about it posted on EBB.com. He was an icon and motivation for the greats and will be remembered always."
- Reg Park Legacy Foundation. Memorial Service.
Please visit the Reg Park Legacy Foundation website here.