A beloved former Kennewick city councilman has died.
Paul Parish, 87, was a “driving force behind making the community a better place,” said City Manager Marie Mosley in a message to the city council and city leaders.
“He truly cared about the city of Kennewick and the staff. He was the type of person who made things happen and stepped back from the limelight, always looking out for the greater good,” she said.
Parish first joined the city council in 1996, serving for 24 years until his retirement in 2019.
He was passionate about revitalizing and improving Columbia Park, and many projects there bear his fingerprints, from the Regional Veterans Memorial to the Playground of Dreams and more. During his last council meeting in December 2019, his fellow council members passed a resolution to rename a portion of Columbia Park Trail – which runs through the park – in his honor.
Parish also was a champion of the Kennewick Police Department and its K-9 program, as well as the Kennewick Fire Department. He advocated for road improvement projects such as the Steptoe extension and Bob Olson Parkway, and he worked especially hard to help seniors, children, veterans and people with special needs in the community.
He was honored as the Kennewick Man of the Year in 2009. He also received the Association of Washington Cities’ first Advocacy All-Star Award in 2015.
Parish was born in Benge, Washington, in 1936 – at home, delivered by his grandmother.
He grew up riding his horse, Pickles, over the channeled scablands of the region, and “there was a small spring by the house where he used a pitcher-pump to fill a bucket with water so cold it hurt his teeth,” his obituary said. During World War II, he’d watch as B-17 bombers zipped overhead on their way to a bombing range near Ritzville, flying so low he could wave at the tail gunner.
Occasionally, flight crews would toss down candy bars.
As a teen, Parish played eight-man football at Washtucna High School, wearing the number 13 – which would become his lucky number – on his jersey. He went onto serve in the U.S. Army as part of the famed 82nd Airborne Division based out of North Carolina. “Paul always bragged the 82nd could respond to any crisis contingency, anywhere in the world, within 18 hours,” his obituary said.
After his time in the military, Parish pursued a varied and successful career, doing everything from working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers responding to an Alaska earthquake in 1964 to serving as a superintendent for the Lampson company.
Above all, he was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
“Of all heroic pursuits large or small, we believe there may be none greater than a life well-loved, and Paul was,” his obituary said.
A celebration of life was scheduled for 11 a.m. July 6 at C3 Church in Richland.
In lieu of flowers or cards, donate to the Kennewick Police Department Foundation in Parish’s name. Go to: kpdfoundation.org.
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