Alumni & Friends

Recognition Awards


Outstanding Tiger Alumni Award

1997


Luther Parman

Class of 1929

Luther Parman Gail Ross and Luther Parman, fixtures in Arkansas City for decades, are this year’s recipients of the Outstanding Tiger Alumni Award. They were honored during the 74th commencement exercises May 3.

 

College paved way for Parman.

 

When Luther Parman was 12 years old, he went to work in the furniture store his father had purchased for $125 in 1908. What the young boy didn’t know was that he would follow his father’s footsteps and make a living selling furniture.

 

Luther H. Parman, the son, grew up in Arkansas City and became a successful businessman. He has always remembered where it all began.

 

“I’m certainly honored by it,” Parman said. “The college enables students to get some motivation to work hard the next two years. I’ve always said that it doesn’t matter what classes you take, just go. I’ve heard that dozens of times.”

Arkansas City Junior College, as it was known when Parman graduated in 1937, has always held a special place in his heart. It was there where he acquired some business skills that would assist him in earning the Business of the Year award in Arkansas City in 1991. And it was there where he learned to appreciate individual attention from instructors. ACJC people like Sleeth, Hall, and Galle had a major influence on Parman.

 

“One thing I was warned about was that here (at ACJC) the instructors will help you,” Parman said. “If you go away, you won’t get any help. That’s true of all the big universities.”

 

After ACJC, Parman enrolled at the University of Chicago, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business in 1939. The university was one of the top 10 business schools in the nation back then, and still is today.

 

With degree in hand, Parman could have gone almost anywhere. He chose to come home.

 

“I came back and went to work in the store again and stayed here ever since,” Parman said.

 

“Dad (Luther E. Parman) and I were very close. He’d put me in charge of something and let me sweat it out.”

 

Parman, 79, learned a lot from his father, whom he labeled most influential in his life. Luther E. died in 1973, and a year later his son bought the store from the estate. In 1974, the store became Luther Parman Furniture.

 

The store didn’t move far through the years, serving as a model of stability on the west side of the 100 block of South Summit Street in downtown Arkansas City. As finances permitted, Parman’s father purchased buildings at 103 S.

 

Summit, 105 S. Summit, 109 S. Summit, and 107 S. Summit. After his father’s death, Parman added a fifth building, 111 S. Summit. It is now where Bob Foster’s Furniture is located today.

 

Parman still has a desk in the store where he comes in two to three times a week. Once in business, always in business. Foster also got Parman his own business cards.

 

Parman has a keen memory, and he chooses his words carefully. He remembers some of his early duties working at the store through the Depression.

 

Parman remembers taking a class titled History of Period Furniture at the University of Chicago that further interested him in staying in the business.

 

“I had a wonderful instructor and a great person next to me,” he said with a chuckle.

 

Still, the person Parman gained the most knowledge from was his father.

 

“Dad and I understood each other,” Parman said. “We could move from actual facts to hypothetical situations.”