Daily News of Los Angeles (CA)
August 29, 1989
Author: JULIE M. ZEIDNER, Daily News Staff Writer

Wearing a hard hat and balancing herself with a cane, Ivalee Parks walked to the edge of a rugged mountain Monday to get a better view of the Newhall Refinery that once was hers. It was 30 years ago that Parks, whose 89th birthday is today, and her husband sold the Newhall Refining Co., tucked among the mountainsides that shadow Sierra Highway. "I can't believe all this," said Parks, using her hand to shield the sun while scoping the smokestack-cluttered skyline. "There's no comparison. We had a small refinery - this must be four or five times bigger."

Fifty-six years ago, she and her late husband Bill moved into rural Newhall from the San Fernando Valley. Ivalee Parks had been stashing away money she earned as an orange packer in Anaheim, money the two used to buy the business. Bill Parks, who had been working in Texas oil companies since the 1920s, vowed that his wife would never have to work again. With their life savings, the Parks' bought a small oil company off Sierra Highway, and Ivalee parks stayed home while her husband went to work. The Newhall refinery, which today can process about 21,000 barrels of crude oil a day at full capacity, could process only 3,500 barrels a day when the Parks owned it, she said. Ninety men and women work there now compared to the 20-member crew that worked for the Parks.

During World War II, Bill Parks wanted to join the service, but he was needed to run the oil refinery, which supplied jet fuel, gasoline and diesel fuel for military vehicles, said Parks. "The 20 employees who worked here were like family to us," Parks said. "There were no guards or anything - not even during the war." After 17 years, the Parks sold their refinery to the Los Angeles-based Pauley Petroleum Co. in 1959 for a "handsome amount," Parks said. The two traveled for four months in Europe. Just a few years later, Bill Parks died.

Parks, who has two children and four grandchildren in the area, still lives in Newhall where she keeps in close touch with her family and many of Santa Clarita's longtime residents, she said.