Friends, family gather to mourn student’s passing
As the organ played, grief hung thick in the air at St. John’s Episcopal Church Friday, during the funeral for CU student David Parrish.
Parrish, a 21-year-old junior geography major, was shot and killed on March 26 while in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on spring break while attempting to prevent thieves from robbing his mother. At the funeral, Parrish’s family and friends mourned their loss and celebrated his life.
“What happened, and is still happening, leaves me totally in awe,” Parrish’s mother and CU instructor Janet Graaff said.
Parrish’s girlfriend, Lina Cohen, gave the first eulogy. She recounted how the two of them met studying abroad in Morocco and how Parrish made others around him feel better about themselves.
“Being with David meant looking up and looking ahead,” Cohen said. “David made you work hard to get to know him, but it was a worthwhile effort.”
Cohen said she treasured her time with Parrish and she would never forget him.
“I consider myself so lucky to have spent a year with David . I will remember him, my best friend, always,” she said.
Graaff was the next to speak. Graaff spoke about the unique relationship between mothers and sons and said Parrish was a big source of happiness in her life.
“He gave us all a lot of joy, when he wasn’t driving us crazy that is,” she said jokingly.
Graaff also said it was important to focus on the positives aspects of Parrish’s life, not simply focus on his death.
“I want to ask all of you a big favor,” Graaff said. “When we talk together, please share with me the amazement of it all, the beauty of it all. David would like that.”
Parrish’s sister Leslie Parrish spoke next. She said Parrish was always accepting of other and encouraged others to do the same.
“He never judged a soul, and made sure I didn’t either,” Leslie Parrish said. “I know he will be missed by everyone.”
The last family member to speak was Parrish’s father, Steve Parrish. He said his son’s death had been very trying and that he missed David a great deal.
“These past nine days have been quite an adventure,” Steve Parrish said.
Steve Parrish said his son had always worked to challenge himself in college and in other aspects of his life. He went on to say David passed on studying abroad in Australia for some place more “new, interesting, and challenging,” and that David’s trip to Morocco was one the highlights of his young life.
“In Morocco all of his criteria of it being new, interesting, and challenging were met many times over,” Steve Parrish said.
After the eulogies, David Parrish’s ashes were placed in the churchyard and his friends and family gathered for a reception.
Devin Smith, a senior music education major from the University of Kansas, was one of several KU students who drove from Kansas for the funeral. Smith, who knew Parrish as a freshman in the dorms, said Parrish was a friend to all and cared deeply about everyone he knew.
“There wasn’t anybody he didn’t like, he took everyone for who they were,” Smith said. “He showed he cared in so many little ways, there are too many to list.”
Smith also said Parrish put others around him at ease and made time for everyone he cared about.
“You could be yourself around him,” Smith said. “He always made time for his friends, always.”
Like many others at the service, Smith said he had been blessed to know Parrish.
“It was truly a gift to know him,” Smith said.
Parrish’s family wrote the following statement in the service pamphlet:
“David . son, brother, friend . your endearing smile to put us at ease . your devotion to a sister that any parent would admire . your wry sense of humor to entertain us constantly . moving through life in a way that was uniquely yours . gentles always .creative ideas breaking new ground .”
In bold letters at the bottom it read: “May your light shine on all of us forever! We love you Davey!”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Rob Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org