Clover schools’ Barbara Parrish dies at age 74

news@enquirerherald.comFebruary 20, 2013 

— Barbara Parrish, a longtime Clover school district educator and board member who began her career teaching at York’s McCelvey Elementary School, died suddenly Tuesday. She was 74.

“Barbara Parrish is an institution in Clover education,” said Clover schools Superintendent Marc Sosne. “She has touched the lives of so many children and professional educators that will go on forever.”

Parrish joined Clover schools in 1985 as coordinator of remedial programs. She served as assistant superintendent of instruction for 17 years before retiring in 2008. She was elected to the Clover School Board in November 2010.

Before working in Clover schools, Parrish was employed for 21 years with the York school district. She started as a first-grade teacher at the old McCelvey Elementary, said her daughter, Lyn Harper, and rose to roles as a principal intern and assistant superintendent.

“Education was her love,” said Harper, who works at Clover’s Crowders Creek Elementary. “She always looked after all the children in the district, no matter what their ability was or what their needs were.”

Harper said Parrish received state recognition for her own service, but that was not her motivation. “Her personal achievements were not important; it was the success of the teachers, the students and the district.”

Pam Cato, director of instruction for Clover schools, said she considered Parrish a mentor. Cato, who called Parrish “a teacher’s friend,” said she worked under Parrish as a Clover principal.

“She was certainly a legend in our own time,” Cato said.

Cato said teachers felt Parrish gave them a lot of support. “They still talk about when Barbara would go with them and she would get them what they needed for their classrooms. She was very hands on, as far as working with teachers and working with principals.”

Sosne said Parrish “had an amazing work ethic, and she really set the standard for so many people, of what it was to be a professional educator. Her influence will be felt for many years in this district.”

Her influence continued for the last two years on the school board, Sosne said, where “she continued to be a champion for teachers and for children. She always did the right thing.”

Harper said Parrish began her career teaching at McCelvey in 1959. During those early years, she said, her mother was once featured in a local newspaper article for being the first woman to wear pants to teach school in York.

“I remember her saying, ‘I just couldn’t sit on the floor with first graders in those short miniskirts and high-heeled boots,’” Harper said. “She used to teach reading, and they would sit on the floor in a circle.”

Harper said she later became the first female school administrator in the York district, and possibly the first in York County. She worked year-round while raising her own children, running a summer program for migrant children whose families came here to pick peaches. Harper said she and her brother accompanied their mother to the summer program.

“She would pick up migrant children and bring them to McCelvey in York and have school in the summer,” Harper said. “She wanted them to be educated. And she did recreation with them.”

She also took food to some of the families, Harper said. “She had a station wagon, and we would pile up in that station wagon” to pick up the children. Later, she said, the district provided a bus for the program.

Harper said many people asked Parrish why she didn’t want to be a school superintendent. Parrish responded that she could have more impact on students and teacher in her role.

After Parrish retired in 2008, Harper said, she decided to bring her knowledge to the school board. “She couldn’t leave education altogether,” Harper said. “That was such a big part of her life.”

Parrish graduated from Limestone College in 1959 and from Winthrop University in 1976.

A memorial service will be at 4 p.m. Friday Feb. 22 at River Hills Community Church, 104 Hamilton’s Ferry Road, Lake Wylie, with the Rev. Roger Underwood officiating. Interment will be private. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, February 21, 2013 at M.L. Ford & Sons Funeral Home, 4820 Charlotte Hwy., Lake Wylie, SC .

Survivors are her children Lyn M. Harper (Eric), Walt McConnell (Leigh), Anna Parrish, Parks Parrish, grandchildren Erica and Lucas Harper, Allie and Ann Mason McConnell and Jackson Parrish. She was preceded in death by her husbands William Walter McConnell, Jr. and Dr. Lace Parrish.

Memorials may be made to Clover Leaf Foundation, attn.: Mychall Frost, 604 Bethel St., Clover, SC 29710 or to Clover Women’s Club Scholarship Fund, PO Box 597, Clover, SC 29710.

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