Charles Parrish: Superintendent’s love for school system sees stadium named in his honor
PROGRESS 2023: What’s In A Name
Born and raised in Phil Campbell, Charles Parrish’s rise to the Franklin County superintendent’s office was a relatively quick one, and his service in the role left a lasting impact on the county.
Parrish served as superintendent for two terms, from 1960-1968, during which time he was committed to excellence in the Franklin County Schools system.
“One of the things Daddy was most proud of was that for the first time in the county, there was a class established for hard-of-hearing students,” noted daughter Diane Hogan. “Another thing he was very proud of is that all of the county high schools were accredited during his administration.”
Other achievements included the construction of an agriculture and home economics building at Red Bay; the addition of a vocational building and gym at Vina, as well as a library; and gym renovations and a new football stadium at Phil Campbell – the latter of which bears his name to this day.
“It makes me proud,” said Hogan, adding she often drives by the stadium to reflect on precious memories of her father. “It means a lot to our family. It really does.”
Hogan said Parrish was a student at Phil Campbell High School himself, as was the girl who would later become his wife, Virginia Mays. Although Parrish was drafted into World War II while in high school, he returned to Phil Campbell to complete his education after his military service, and he continued on to Jackson State Teachers College on the GI bill.
He taught for a few years at Lynn – PE and history, Hogan thinks – before returning to Franklin County as principal of Rockwood School. Hogan was a student at Rockwood while her father was principal. He was soon elected to the superintendent’s chair.
“He loved all the county schools, and he helped all the kids throughout the county. He just loved working with children,” Hogan said. “He was such a good person. He tried to do good for the church and the schools in this county. He meant a lot to the schools here and the boys and girls he came into contact with.”
Parrish was an elder at the Isbell church of Christ and was also involved in civic groups like the Civilians. Hogan said he also loved sports and enjoyed fishing, and he was a big Alabama fan. Above it all, however, “the church and his family always came first.”
After his service as superintendent, Parrish continued his career in the Franklin County Schools system, managing federal programs. He passed away in March 1981 after several years battling cancer that spread from his lungs throughout his body.
“He suffered a painful fight with it, but he kept fighting it,” Hogan said. “He never complained. He never said why me. I always admired his attitude.”
Hogan and sister Harriet Miller both followed in their father’s footsteps as school teachers. Hogan has two sons, and Miller has one son and one daughter. Hogan said it means a lot to their family to have a visible reminder of everything Parrish meant to his family and his community. Miller said their dad was thrilled and honored by the move to name the stadium after him.
“You don’t want people to forget,” said, Hogan “how much somebody loved the school system and how hard they worked.”