Bernard G. Parrish
1932 - 2004
Ben Parrish, a singer who performed widely and in many different venues, was born in Illinois, the oldest child of Gilbert Clinton and Opal Luella Smith Parrish. His teenage years were spent at Highland Academy, where his parents worked. A graduate of HA, Parrish began developing his evident talent at an early age. While still young, he won a statewide singing contest.
Parrish would eventually record six albums, two of which were combined posthumously as a CD titled The Best of Ben Parrish, and two secular singles. He performed in countless concerts and specials in many churches nationwide and in an evangelistic series in Hungary and sang the national anthems of the U.S. and Canada at many national conventions. He performed before many dignitaries; on Grand Ole Opry in Nashville; and at the invitation of Lowell Thomas for the Explorer Club at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. He recorded numerous performances for the It is Written TV ministry. He sang the Star Spangled Banner on hundreds of occasions and in many venues.
Parrish married Merle Johnson, daughter of Vivian Johnson, a staff member at HA who was honored with the naming of the girls' dormitory for her. In 2006 the Parrish family established the Ben Parrish Fund to support music department activities as a memorial to his dedication and service in music. The tradition in service to HA by the Parrish family, which started with his parents and continued through succeeding generations who have attended and served at the school, will continue indefinitely through the proceeds from this fund.
Sources: Southern Tidings, April 2006; 1940 U.S. Federal Census; Obituary, Springfield, Tennessee, Robertson County Times, 21 November 2004.