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Friday, March 31, 2006

We will miss Harry Parrish

Just a quick note about Harry Parrish on the eve of his funeral.

He was without a doubt one of the nicest, most down to earth people that I have served with in my time in the legislature. Much has been said about him and his long life in public service and all of it is true. Two quick stories though.

One day in my third year during a very quiet Sunday, which is a good day to get work done, Harry popped his head in my door and said, "hey young man, getting some work done?" We both chuckled and I asked him about his career and life. I had no idea, at that point, that he flew the "Hump" in WWII but I was not surprised to learn of his role in that great conflict. Most people give you pearls of wisdom, some solicited and some unsolicited, but not Harry on this occasion. What sticks with me from that 15 minutes with him was that he was genuinely interested in me and what I was doing. He didn't have to stop by, but he did. So, stop by someone's office or house or just call to chat. It could make all the difference.

One other memory sticks out in my mind from this session. Everyone knew that Harry had been sick and it looked like he had fully recovered about a month ago. But at the age of 84, you have to think that it was taking its toll and that no one would have thought less of him if he missed a meeting or two. We were not surprised to see him, after all it was normal to see Harry. One meeting did surprise me though.

We had a Cost Cutting Caucus meeting to go over some transportation issues and a lot of the younger delegates were there ostensibly to learn more about transportation. Let's face it though, the younger delegates don't have as many meetings to attend because we/they are low on the seniority pole. The room was darkened to accomodate the power point by Geoff Segal from the Reason Foundation so seeing people was not at a premium. Questions were being asked and answered in the usual pace when all of a sudden I hear Harry Parrish ask a dead on question. I didn't know he was there, but he was. He cared enough about Virginia's transportation future, at the age of 84, to attend a meeting when he didn't have to do so. I still shake my head about that one. The guy was amazing. A charter member of the Greatest Generation.

Rest In Peace Harry. You are a good man and set a great example for all of us. You will be missed greatly.

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