Parrish, Jr., James

March 14, 2004

On Wednesday, March 10, 2004, JAMES PARRISH, JR., who spent most of his spirited life exuding unbridled optimism, and his upbeat energy was contagious. He believed in the old-school interpretation of the American dream that hard work and good intentions could surmount any obstacle. Born May 19, 1968 in Baltimore, James grew up in Turners Station, the African-American section of Dundalk, Maryland. His academic and athletic efforts at Dundalk High earned him a full scholarship to Temple University following his graduation in 1986. A finance major with a minor in political science, James concluded a stellar career with the Owls determined to enter the football world. Beginning with the Miami Dolphins, who signed him in 1992, the 6' 6", 320-pound tackle would wear 10 NFL uniforms, those of the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs. He also had stints with the London Monarchs and Barcelona Dragons of the World League of American Football and with the Canadian Football Leagues Montreal Alouettes. He went to two Super Bowls, most memorably Super Bowl XXX in Tempe, Arizona, where James helped the Steelers mount an impressive second-half comeback before losing to the Cowboys. Of all the interesting people JP charmed on the beaches of Barcelona, at his apartment atop Mount Washington (half the populace of Pittsburgh, it seemed) or any of his other temporary homes, the soul with whom he most connected and the person whose company he cherished most was a tall Texas tornado named Jennifer Robertson, daughter of Danny and Sherry Robertson of Bryan. Smitten from the start but still in the throes of a fast-paced odyssey, James ultimately came to realize that this rare woman was neither overwhelmed nor threatened by the immensity and intensity of his personality. At that point, he did the only sensible thing: He took a knee and asked for her hand in marriage. Together, they produced two beautiful children, James Herbert Parrish III, in February of 1999, and Jordan Nicole Parrish, in July of 2001 and let the good times roll, proving resoundingly that fun does not end with matrimony. When James learned he had cancer, he stayed positive and refused to mope, often managing to convince the concerned friends and family members in his midst that everything would be OK. When it became clear that it wouldn't, James faced his situation head on, carrying himself with dignity and decency to the end. When those around him expressed their sympathy, he'd shoot back, Hey, don't cry for me. I've lived THREE lives in my 35 years. Death was something James had to confront in college, when his father, James Herbert Parrish, Sr., passed away. He also lost his grandparents, Alice and Charles Parrish, Sr., and Lucy and Obia Roberson. In addition to his wife and children, James is survived by his mother, Sharon Robinson; his stepfather, Charles T. Robinson; his stepsister, Rebecca Robinson, and stepbrother, Charles T. Robinson, Jr.; and many other loving relatives. As large as he was in life, both in terms of physical size and that of his personality, James leaves a huge void as he passes to the next world. Another of his favorite adages, this one quite literal, was, Every day is a blessing. He was one person, from start to finish, who actually lived those words. That, to those who had the privilege of knowing him, is the greatest blessing of all. Funeral services will be held at Greater St. Johns Baptist Church in Dundalk, MD, on Wednesday, March 17, with burial services at Kings Memorial Cemetery.

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