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Obituaries

THE REVEREND RONALD “RON” HAROLD PARRISH

The Reverend Ronald Harold Parrish, Associate Minister of the Independent Presbyterian Church (IPC) of Savannah, was called into the Lord’s arms in the early hours of Tuesday morning. He was 69 years old. Ron had been recuperating from a nearly 3-month long health battle that began with Covid-19 in October. He died of cardiac arrest.

Ron was serving in his 26th year at IPC, a calling he truly loved and for which he labored diligently. Affectionately referred to as a “people’s” pastor, Ron cherished the work of ministering to God’s people and was certainly known for his warm, engaging personality and affection for others. House calls, hospital visitations and praying with those in need were particular gifts and duties he enjoyed. He made many lasting friendships with out-of-town visitors from around the world as he walked the Sunday morning aisles of IPC greeting new faces, not to mention being one of the first people to befriend newcomers. Particular among his favorite parishioners were the children of IPC families.

Ron was born June 13, 1951 in Montezuma, GA, the eldest of Prince and Ann Parrish’s three children. Soon after his birth, Ron’s family relocated to his dad’s hometown of Greensboro, GA, where he was reared. Young Ron found an outlet in high school athletics through which he formed friendships that were formative in his early Christian life. These years also earned him the moniker of “Doc,” a nickname he carried throughout high school, college and seminary. Ron was led to pursue his faith as a vocation and fulfilled a dream to attend Belhaven College (now University) in Jackson, MS (class of ‘73) with several other high school classmates from Greensboro, later earning a Masters of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson (class of ‘77).

It was during his time serving as a young assistant pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Montgomery, AL, that he met and fell in love with a newly credentialed Canadian nurse who had recently moved to the United States for a short nursing assignment. Ron received a “tip” from an elder in his congregation that a team of Canadian nurses recently arrived in town and Ron gladly volunteered himself to help the cohort find a church home! Ron and Donna were married in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada less than a year later and celebrated 41 years of marriage in October.

Ron was a devoted husband and father. He frequently showed great enthusiasm in his children’s avocations and professions, often engaging himself in their respective interests. Ron and Donna were overjoyed at their new role as grandparents for the last 2 years, Ron particularly embracing his position as “Papa.”

Ron was proud of Donna’s Canadian heritage and faithfully returned her and their children to Ontario annually for summer holiday with Donna’s parents and family. He spent many years camping with Donna’s family across Ontario’s provincial parks and introducing each of his children to fishing in Ontario’s Grand River.

An avid reader and lover of books, he amassed a collection of historic and theological works that most ministers or academics would envy — save when such a collection must be moved, as was the case several times in Ron’s life.

Ron was a lover of music — particularly classical and jazz, and of course, of sacred choral music and hymns. He was always ready with a “new find” to share with his children. With his knack for impersonation, voices and an on-demand recall for song lyrics to fit a situation, he lovingly brought joy to his family and friends.

Ordained to the ministry in the Presbyterian Church in America in 1977, Ron celebrated his 44th year of public ministry in 2020. During those years, Ron served congregations in Montgomery, AL; Roanoke and Martinsville, VA; Chestnut Mountain, GA; Pensacola, FL; and two separate congregations in Savannah, GA.

Accolades and praise were never sought by Ron, nor did he enjoy them. He would have grimaced at the reading of this tribute. He carried out his work and life with a profound sense of duty and gratitude that the Lord had provided him far more than he had ever imagined or deserved. As he wrote in a public note of thanks to the congregation of IPC on the celebration of his 20th year serving the church, “To quote my favorite homespun philosopher, Bernard P. Fife, ‘You know how I hate all this fuss and falderal. Lord knows job itself’s reward enough.’”

A blessing at his age, Ron was predeceased by no immediate family. He is survived by his wife Donna, son Matthew (Ann Douglas) of Richmond, VA, daughter Leighann Rosenfeld (Victor), son Andrew (Claire), and son David of Savannah; grandsons Max Rosenfeld and Joel Parrish; his parents, M. H. “Prince” Parrish (age 95) and Ann Carr Parrish (age 91) of Greensboro, GA; his brother Scott of Greensboro, GA and his sister Patti Parrish Stansell (Calvin) of Watkinsville, GA; sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law and nieces and nephews across Georgia and Ontario, Canada.

The family will receive friends from 4 until 6 o’clock Thursday, January 28, 2021, in the outdoor pavilion at Point Pleasant – 441 Suncrest Boulevard, Savannah. Recommended Covid protocols will be followed.

A memorial service will be held at 11:30 Friday morning, January 29, 2021, at Independent Presbyterian Church. Private burial will be in the Greenwich section of Bonaventure Cemetery.

The Parrish and Rosenfeld family sincerely thanks the nurses, doctors and administrators of the St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital system for their attentive care for Ron over the last 3 months.

Remembrances can be made to the Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah, P.O. Box 9266, Savannah, GA, 31412.

Online Condolences

  1. Linda Lair Futrell says:

    Extending our deepest sympathies to your family over Ron’s passing. My last image of Ron was him walking to the mailbox holding your grandchild’s hand, we waved, he was very happy, with a big smile on his face.. He is in his Heavenly Home now, and no longer ill. God Bless your family, and know that we are praying for you all.
    Linda and Jim Futrell

  2. Mike Chastain says:

    Our dear servant of Christ has now seen God face to face. Joanne and I will miss him.

  3. Neill & Kayron Stevens says:

    Such a wonderful man. We will miss Ron so much. So many good memories.

  4. Bob & Murle Breer says:

    Ron was a fragrance of Christ to all who came in contact with him. We will deeply miss his presence at IPC.
    Our love & prayers to Donna & family.

  5. Wanda H. Tanner says:

    Through the years our family has been blessed by our associations with Ron’s family. His children were part of the provision that the Lord had for our children. We praise the Lord for His faithfulness to us all and for the Salvation and assurance of Eternity with Him that sustains you now. May the Lord bless and keep you, Parrish Family.

    Our love, Dale and Wanda

  6. Dr. A.T. Stewart says:

    Because of Covid-19 I had to say goodbye to a very dear childhood friend today. Ron “Doc” Parrish was my best friend growing up. We started the first grade together and graduated from Belhaven University together. During our formative years Doc and I were like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. We did almost everything together. I hope you had a childhood friend like Doc. He was the friend that you spent the night in your pup tent in the backyard when you were 8 years old. He was that friend that you laughed together at each other’s corny jokes. He was the friend that in middle school we spent the night at the high school football stadium in the metal stands looking for UFO’s. That is until we thought we heard a bear and ran for our lives! He was my wing man. No one ever had a more loyal friend than Doc. We trusted him with some of the most important assignments. For example, when we were having one of those 7th Grade girl/boy parties in a friends basement we called on the guy we could trust with our lives. We wanted to turn off the lights so we could “be as romantic” as middle schools boys can get. We knew our friend’s mother would be furious if she knew we had turned out the lights. Remember this was the 60’s before drugs, transgender questions and internet filth. So our solution was to give our most trusted friend the job of sitting by the basement door with one hand on the door knob and one hand on the light switch. If the door knob started to turn the lights came on!

    As we went into high school our great God brought us into His kingdom. We enjoyed growing in the Christian faith together. We went to Campus Crusade for Christ High School Conferences where we would sign Southern Gospel favorites to our own enjoyment. I would be singing lead and Doc would harmonize with his strong tenor voice. We especially enjoyed gatherings in the stairwell where the acoustics were great. A few other guys would join us and we would sing out with of our might. A group of us would meet once a week for prayer, Bible study, and you guessed it, singing more Southern Gospel songs. That singing evolved into the Coaches Crew that spent many Saturday nights singing for youth groups across south Georgia and telling them about our love for the Lord Jesus.

    After our graduation from college we went our separate ways. We kept in touch but not like we should have. We both got busy with life and only occasionally touched base during the years. Fortunately, we were able to reconnect even if only for a moment at our 50th class reunion. One of my regrets in life will be that I did not keep in better touch with Doc. Now, it’s too late. But, fortunately we will catch up in heaven!

    What kind of friend was Doc? When you sign up for those online websites one of the security questions is usually “What’s the name of your best childhood friend?’ Without hesitation I put “Ronnie.”

    You will be missed my dear friend but not forgotten.

  7. Coach Mack Poss says:

    I went to Greene County in 1967 to coach and teach. My very dear friend and mentor…Head Coach C.S. Veazey called me and said there is some work to do at the football field and field house. I had only been there a few days. He said I am going by to pick up Ronnie Parrish, who does just about everything for me and the team. Thus Ronnie Parrish, aka, as “Doc”…who was superlative at taping everything, was the very first student I met in Greene County. Little did I know, I was crossing paths with a young man, that would have an impact on my life. He and so many students in Greene County blessed my life. He was also part of a group, called the Coach’s Crew…Ron became a friend, having made many trips with me..if I was going to Athens for whatever, or traveling to Lincolnton to see my parents, or going to a church somewhere to hear someone preach or a singing group. I guess you could say…he was my “riding partner and buddy”…wherever I was going for whatever reason…it didn’t matter…usually after checking with his parents …he would say..”OK Coach, I can go..what time are you picking me up?” There were times also we would pick up another Coach’s Crew buddy. There are not enough words to describe our relationship and bond.He laughingly use to say..”Coach we have got to find you a wife…but I guess we need to start with a girl friend”! I could write so many things, if space and time allowed so. But …Ron, Ronnie, Doc…whatever we called you…the most important thing…is FRIEND! I must say…another very close friend that we share…Coach Joe McDaniel…has a saying…”made my eyes sweat(tears)”…
    mine did when I heard of the passing from Coach McDaniel…..known as Doc or Ron. While Ron, touched a gazillion lives…he not only touched mine…he impacted mine. Family my regrets that I can’t be there as his life is celebrated…just know..while ” my eyes are sweating”…they are of joy this time…as Ronnie Parrish is getting his much deserved reward”…and the HEAD COACH…JESUS is saying…”well done…good and faithful servant! Come over here, there is a place at MY table”!

    Coach Poss

  8. Karen Franz says:

    Donna I’m so sorry to hear about Ron. I always enjoyed chatting when you would come into Publix. Ron always made my day better. Love and prayers, Karen Franz (Publix Largo)

  9. Kathy Leger (Blackburn) says:

    Donna I am so so sorry for your loss. Just so tragic. My condolences to you and all of your family. Hugs

  10. Charlie Moore says:

    I met Ron in the hospital in July 2016 when my granddaughter, Caroline Moore Broadmann was injured in an unfortunate accident.She was in the hospital for three weeks and Ron was there every day. He was there all day praying with the family and just being there to comfort the family. My wife and i have been praying for Ron and his family and we will always be grateful for Ron’s faithfulness to the Moore family. Our prayers will be with your family.

  11. Leslie Coggins says:

    I am so sorry to hear of this. My prayers and best wishes are with the entire Parish family.

  12. Rhett Mouchet says:

    Was so sorry to hear of Ron’s passing. A terrific person and will be greatly missed. Thoughts and Prayers for his family.

  13. Nancy Rusnell Gruenwald says:

    So sorry for your loss Donna and family. So many beautiful tributes to what sounds like an amazing man.
    Prayers to you and your family!
    Class of 78

  14. Louis & Dot Richardson says:

    Dear Donna, Myself and my parents are so sorry to hear about Rev Ron’s passing. Ron and yourself & IPC have been such a blessing to my parents. They were always excited to have y’all visit them. Prayers for you and your children. He will be missed.

  15. Beverly Vaughn Wilkes Sines says:

    Donna,
    I played basketball when Ron was “doc” to me wrapping my ankles before each game. I worked with his Mom for years and you were the nurse when my granddaughter was born in Savannah. My heart hurts for you and your family. Prayers for you in the coming days and weeks. Ron, Ronnie, Doc Rest In Peace.

  16. Nanci DeAngelis Murphree says:

    Dear Donna,
    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Praying for God’s strength and comfort in the days ahead. May the wonderful memories of the life you shared together comfort you.
    Class of ‘78

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