Farewell: Dr. Norma F. Parrish

Southwest mourns the loss of Dr. Norma Parrish who passed away Jan. 24. Parrish was the wife of the late Dr. Jess Parrish, former President of Shelby State Community College.   

Dr. Norma Parrish enjoyed her role as the wife of a college president from 1970 to 1991. Jess Parrish was named the founding president of Shelby State in 1970. Two years later, on Sept. 12, 1972, the College would open its doors to nearly 1,000 mostly first-generation, first-year college students. Dr. Jess Parrish served as president for 11 years, building the Union Avenue Campus while teaching classes. He passed away in 2015.

Dr. Norma F. Parrish

The Parrishes were the first to own a Saluqi and established an endowment at Southwest to ensure a lasting legacy of education for the community. The Jess H. and Norma Parrish Scholarship Endowment awards one full scholarship (tuition and fees) per academic year to a Southwest student. 

“The best thing that ever happened to Norma and me was to establish a scholarship,” Dr. Parrish said. “As time passes, we are convinced one of the most important things for a young person is to have a proper educational background.”

Norma Parrish enjoyed golf, tennis, bridge and music, but her passion was education. She taught elementary school in West Texas and Memphis for over 20 years. Longtime friend Betsy F. Vaught spent many happy hours at the Parrish home during their time in Memphis. “Those were such wonderful memories because we got to share their love of students and the opportunity they both enjoyed through their work in education,” Vaught said. “Hundreds of students are having a better life because of their efforts, both in Tennessee and Texas.”

Norma is survived by son Kip and his wife Terrye, son Kyle, Kip’s two children and their spouses, Jackson (Michelle) and Taylor (Joseph), and her two great grandchildren by Taylor–Thomas and Michael.

To make a donation to the Parrish endowment in memory of Norma Parrish, contact the Office of Institutional Development at rclandy@southwest.tn.edu or (901) 333-4577.  Acknowledgements will be sent to the Parrish family.

For more information about the Jess H. and Norma Parrish Scholarship Endowment, click here.