William F. Parrish Sr., 85, electrical engineer

December 08, 2004|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

William F. Parrish Sr., an electrical engineer who developed ocean exploration equipment for Westinghouse Electric Corp. after serving as a combat engineer during World War II, died of heart failure Dec. 1 at St. Joseph Medical Center. The longtime Stoneleigh resident was 85.

Mr. Parrish was born and raised in Baltimore, graduated in 1937 from Forest Park High School and earned his bachelor's degree in engineering from the Johns Hopkins University in 1942.

Commissioned as an Army lieutenant in 1942, he served with the 5th Engineer Combat Regiment in Iceland and in Europe, with tasks that included building hospitals, clearing mine fields and -- in 11 days -- constructing a bridge across a river in Holland.

Leaving the Army as a captain in 1946, Mr. Parrish worked for the old Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River and at the Bendix Frieze instrument manufacturing plant in Towson before taking a job at the Westinghouse plant in Linthicum in the early 1960s.

He developed low-light television and optic systems for military and commercial use before joining the company's Oceanic Division near Annapolis, where he designed and developed Deep Star, an unmanned instrument used for underwater oil and gas exploration.

"He developed other equipment used in ocean exploration that were able to locate submarine cables used by the Soviet Union to communicate with its naval fleet during the Cold War. These cables were surreptitiously monitored by the U.S. over several years, revealing information about fleet movements and operations," said a son, William F. Parrish Jr. of Timonium, an environmental and civil engineer.

Mr. Parrish received five patents during his Westinghouse career. He retired in 1982.

He was a past secretary and vice president of the Baltimore chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

He was an avid model railroader and enjoyed sailing his sloop, The Southside.

Mr. Parrish's wife of 52 years, the former Mary Killeen Russell, died in 2000.

Services were Saturday.

In addition to his son, he is survived by three other sons, Brian F. Parrish of Anneslie, Steven L. Parrish of Baltimore and Alan D. Parrish of Forest Hill; and 10 grandchildren. Another son, Bruce R. Parrish, died in 2000.

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