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Jack Parrish

Forestry Pioneer

ParrishJack2.jpgJack B. Parrish, was a retired forester and mayor of Rexford when he died at age 66 on January 3, 1990 in the Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

He was born May 3, 1923 in Martin, Tennessee to Otis and Maggie Parrish.  He grew up in Martin where he graduated from Martin High School in 1941.  He enlisted in the US Army Air Corps during World War II and served as a B-24 radio gunnery sergeant in the European theatre.  He flew more than 50 missions and was missing in action for about 9 days after his plane was shot down over Yugoslavia.  The entire crew was rescued by Tito’s partisan troops.  After Jack recuperated from his wounds, he returned to active duty and finished his missions with the same crew.  Parrish earned the Silver Star, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster.  

After the war, Parrish returned to Tennessee and on March 8, 1945, married Martha Higgs in Martin.  They moved to Missoula, where Parrish earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Forestry, with emphasis in Range and Wildlife Management from the University of Montana. 

When he graduated from college in 1950, he went to work full-time for J. Neil’s Lumber Company. He was eventually promoted to the superintendent of the Rexford logging district.  When St. Regis Paper Company brought out J. Neil’s, he continued as superintendent for Rexford district until the districts consolidated and moved to Libby.  He retired in 1980 as a St. Regis Paper Company Land Agent.

During the construction of the Libby Dam, Parrish was instrumental in selecting the present site for the re-located town of Rexford.  He was the town’s first and only mayor up to his death in 1990. 

Parish belonged to the Society of American Foresters and was active in the Druid Society at the University of Montana.  He was an avid outdoorsman and conservationist.  He served on the board of the Lincoln County High School at Eureka as well as other school boards.   He was honored by the Tobacco Valley Improvement Association with the annual president’s award in 1972. 

Jack’s peers nominated him for this award because Jack was a strong advocate and voice of good forest management and all resource protection. He worked tirelessly throughout his life for pro-active forest management and forest fire protection, on all forest lands; federal, state, private and small private lands in Montana and the Inland Region. Jack was member of the Rexford Fire Department. He was actively involved in major fires suppression efforts in the Yaak, East and Westside of the Kootenai River drainage, such as Boulder Creek, Caribou, Koo-Boyd, Edna Creek, Stone Hill and many other fire projects.  He was a very key resource for initial attack and fire suppression in north Lincoln County, and worked cooperatively with all area fire protection agencies in NW Montana and southern BC. 

 Jack is very deserving of induction into the MT Forestry Pioneers.  Jack was a quiet man, but at times a very strong “vocal voice” in his support for good forest management, good fire protection and his communities and fellow residents of Lincoln County, Montana.

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