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Don Parrish to be remembered September 30

SHREWSBURY-There will be a Celebration of the Life of Donald A. Parrish with a gathering for shared stories, music, and potluck on September 30 at 1 p.m. at the Shrewsbury Town Hall.

A former longtime Shrewsbury Selectman, Parrish, 63, passed away at his home recently after a long illness.

He served in the United States Army and was a Vietnam Veteran. He moved to Vermont in 1975 to work at Spring Lake Ranch and served as Shrewsbury's rural mail carrier from 1983 to 2001.

He married Annette Lindholm in 1996 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in legal studies from Woodbury College in 2004. 
Parrish served on many town committees and boards and was a past member of the Shrewsbury Volunteer Fire Department. He was seldom seen without his camera, and Shrewsbury artist Graham Mears noted "he was an excellent photographer."

He served both the town and the state with "a conscientious integrity and helpfulness" that were praised by co-workers and friends. He was recognized with a Vermont Public Service Award in 1999.

Former selectman Dick Brigham praised Parrish for his reliability and hard work, saying "his comical wit often turned arduous evenings into a laugh."

Selectman Bert Potter noted his fairness and "willingness to listen and change his mind if you could convince him of your logic and that your position was right."

Town librarian Joan Aleshire said, "Don was one of the finest people I've known. He was a loyal friend, an extraordinarily dedicated library trustee, library treasurer, and selectman; and a committed citizen of our community. I think all of us who knew him feel a tremendous loss, but can be inspired by his example of courage in the face of a long and intractable illness, and his dedication to his beliefs."

Licia Gambino-Hamilton said Parrish was a "driving force" in launching the Shrewsbury Chamber Music Society and was a committed board member and treasurer.

"He was universally respected for both his integrity and dependability - he was the friend that always looked out for you. . . I admired Don's courage and determination. When he got the diagnosis of cancer it was already at an advanced stage, yet he went on to get his paralegal degree and work at Vermont Legal Aid, helping others during his ten-year fight with cancer," said friend Dirk Thomas.

Having joined Vermont Legal Aid in 2004, Parrish was the sole Client Assistance Program Representative in Vermont, advocating for clients of the State Vocational Rehabilitation Program statewide and served on related state and national committees.

Colleague Sam Liss stated, "Don was as passionate and ethical an advocate for the best interests of his clients and for social justice, generally, that I have ever met. He always thought of what is best for those with little perceived power and influence. Advancing employment opportunities for those with disabilities was in the forefront of his work, as was budgetary and programmatic equity."

In serving on the State Rehabilitation Council, "Don advised and challenged us on our policies and procedures. He knew the federal regulations inside out and made sure we followed them to the letter. . .  He accomplished this task with a great sense of humor. Meetings about policy were actually fun when Don was involved," commented James Smith.

"He provided a voice for those who needed to be heard and an ear for those who needed someone to listen. He was liked and respected by everyone who knew him," noted Jennifer Philo, secretary of Vermont Legal Aid in Rutland.

"He really loved his job, respected his clients, and believed in a world of full employment and community inclusion for people with disabilities," Nancy Breiden, Director of the Disability Law Project, added.

Parrish is survived by his wife Annette, children Nicholas and Timothy Parrish, Brittany Parrish-Totin, Zeb and Jensen Lindholm, his father, and many relatives.