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He'll be missed
Council honors late Bob Parrish
new deh bob parrish pic
Bob Parrish receives the Citizen of the Year award from Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters during the 2008 chamber annual banquet. Long active in the community, Parrish died last Thursday a day shy of his 90th birthday. - photo by Tribune file photo

In other business Monday night, the Great Bend City Council:

• Approved change order number one for the band shell project in the amount of $2,459. This involved two separate issues, both dealing with the sewer line.

• Approved a resolution granting permission to serve complimentary alcoholic liquor or cereal malt beverages at the third-annual Downtown Art and Wine Walk on May 11. The request was made by Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau Director/Community Coordinator Christina Hayes.

Hayes said the drinks can only be consumed in the businesses and the businesses are responsible for making sure no minors are served.

• Approved a lease with Roger Ward to operate the concession facility at the Great Bend Sports Complex. This year’s lease is the same as last year.

• Approved a request from the Family Crisis Center to close Lakin Avenue from Main Street to Kansas Avenue from 4-7:30 p.m. on April 20 for the Walk A Mile in Her Shoes event. 

• Approved a door-to-door license for I.G. Construction LLC. The council recently approved a tree-trimming license for the same company which is based in Lexington, Mo.

• Approved abatements at: 331 Frey St., motor vehicle nuisance, owned by Jaime and Hortencia Ayala; 800 Pine St. (801 Pine Pl.), motor vehicle nuisance, owned by Village Park Inc.; and 1437 2nd St., accumulation of refuse, owned by Sean and Patricia Mix.

 The Great Bend City Council had intended Monday night to honor former mayor and longtime community supporter Bob Parrish in person. However, Parrish died last Thursday, one day shy of his 90th birthday.

Current Mayor Mike Allison, city council members and city staff wanted to help him celebrate this milestone. Instead, they took time to eulogize a man who was an integral part of his hometown’s business and civic life.

“We can still have a little bit celebration,” Allison said. “This can be a celebration of life. He had a good life and a good Great Bend life.”

Before the meeting, those in attendance shared stories about dealings with Parrish. Some strolled by his photograph which hung on the back wall of the council chambers along with portraits of all former city mayors.

“I know he’s smiling down on us,” Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters said.

“He will be missed by all of us,” said Bev Komarek, executive director of the Barton County Historical Society Museum. Parrish spent 15 years actively involved with the society, helping to spearhead such projects as the B-29 Memorial Plaza and the refurbishing of “The Rifleman” statue on the Barton County Courthouse Square.

He was also involved in planning his own birthday bash on the Wednesday before he passed away. “He was active up to the end,” Komarek said.

She recalled loud conversations with Parrish, who was a good friend. Now, she said, “it’s quiet.”

Anyone wanting to know anything about Great Bend knows just had to call Parrish who had been involved in Great Bend his entire life, as a student, a businessman, an elected official, a community leader, a political leader and as its longtime historian. 

His long-standing service earned Parrish the 2007 Citizen of the Year award during the 86th Annual Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Banquet in February 2008. He was honored as the grand marshal for the Home for the Holidays Parade in 2010 as well.

Graduating from Great Bend High School in 1945, he was in the last class to be a part of the World War II draft. He, along with many of his classmates, went ahead and enlisted. Parrish said he signed up at the Great Bend Army Air Field, home of the B-29 training program. 

After serving in the armed forces and earning a business degree from the University of Kansas, returned to his hometown and joined his father in managing and operating Parrish Motors. Through his years as a businessman, Parrish served on the Great Bend City Council and was elected mayor of Great Bend several times. He served as county chairman for the Republican Party and also held district and state positions for the party. 

Parrish teamed up with the late Ray “Jiggs” Schulz on a popular local weekly radio show titled “Pages in Time,” about the early happenings of Great Bend. With his passion for Great Bend, he volunteered long-time service to the Barton County Historical Society.

Additionally, Parish sat on the Board for the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development and served as chairman for a term. 

He also provided leadership to numerous local civic groups.

As a local businessman, he served on the board of the previous American State Bank for many years. He had been a member of the Great Bend Rotary Club since 1963.