OBITUARY: Marvin Joseph Parrish

Dr. Marvin Joseph Parrish – clinical psychologist, college professor, jokester and Kenny Rogers doppelganger – has left the building.

Marvin was born on Jan. 26, 1942, in Wichita. After 79 years of wonderful living, making the best of his final years with Parkinson’s Disease, Marvin passed away on July 9, 2021, in Newton. He was surrounded by his loving wife and daughters.

Marvin Parrish was a farm boy, a dog lover, a class clown and an exemplary student. He served as Student Body President of Oklahoma Christian College, where he earned a bachelor’s in English in 1964 and pranked his dorm mates by short sheeting their beds. Marvin also earned degrees in Philosophy and Religion and Psychology from Wichita State and Washington University in St. Louis. He was the first intern to pursue clinical neuropsychology at the University of Indiana, where it was developed. Dr. Parrish had a long career as a therapist, holding rare specialties in hypnosis. He was the owner and operator of the McPherson and Newton Psychological Service Centers. After serving on-staff at several other mental health institutions, he retired in 2012. White-bearded Marvin also enjoyed a long “acting career,” pretending to be Santa Claus for the many children who saw him in the street and suspected he was Kris Kringle incognito.

Marvin treasured his wife of 52 years, Kathryn Salmon Parrish. He took every opportunity to proclaim she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Marvin’s many hobbies included watching Kansas college basketball teams, gardening and planting trees, playing card games Rook and Skip-Bo, eating Super Supreme pizza, drinking milkshakes and Pepsi, listening to the Oak Ridge Boys, teasing everyone he met and driving his electric orange Porsche 914 convertible. He put his beautiful baritone voice to use in barbershop quartets and sang to his older daughter, Angela, who is now a songwriter and music producer. Marvin’s love of justice and equity lives on in the career of his younger daughter, Abbey, who is a paralegal for Legal Aid. Marvin had to wait 44 years to become a father and he cherished his girls every day.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Lee and Viola, and infant sister, Janet Fern. He lives on in the memories of his wife, Kathy, daughter Angela Parrish and son-in-law Dave Richards, daughter Abbey Parrish, brother and sister-in-law, Paul and Linda Parrish, and many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends. He also lives on in the positive trajectory of the lives of those he helped as a therapist.

A memorial service was held Wednesday, July 14, at 11 a.m., at Petersen Funeral Home, 215 N Main St, in Newton. A memorial has been established with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, in care of Petersen Funeral Home.

His family thanks his doctor, Randall Goering, who helped him live a quality life with Parkinson’s for 15 years. Marvin was relentlessly positive. He frequently spoke about how his life with Parkinson’s was still blessed. When a person is disabled in some way, they alone determine their quality of life. His family is heartbroken that the doctor is out, but they are celebrating his rich and full life. So, have a milkshake or plant a tomato seed in his honor. And, take heart in his wonderful words – “Who I am and who I’ll be is, for the most part, up to me.”

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