Teen who found value in lit­tle things

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - News Obituaries - By Molly Born Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944.

For plenty of kids, fond mem­o­ries of school are hard to come by. If the re­mem­brances of Katie Par­ish are any in­di­ca­tion, she made it a lit­tle easier for some of them.

She was the kind of friend who, in sev­enth grade, stayed with Ai­den Noga and showed her the ropes when ski club class­mates left Ai­den after a fall. In fifth grade, she watched as a boy was re­peat­edly bul­lied in class, and went with her mom after school to dis­creetly tell the coun­selor.

Even the mem­o­ries scrawled on col­or­ful sticky notes on a wall at Ne­shan­nock High School pro­vided a glimpse of a girl who seemed to do the right thing for the sake of oth­ers.

“You were the first per­son to make me feel wel­comed to this school. Thanks for that,” read one. An­other said: “Thank you for be­ing kind to me when not ev­ery­one was.”

Kather­ine Par­ish died Fri­day at UPMC Jame­son Hos­pi­tal after suf­fer­ing an aneurysm at her home in New Cas­tle. She was 17.

A se­nior at Ne­shan­nock, Katie played trom­bone in the march­ing band and trav­eled on hol­i­day with her fam­ily or on mis­sion trips. This sum­mer she vis­ited Fiji to help build re­la­tion­ships with the Methodist con­gre­ga­tion there.

“She was more than happy to give up her time and part of her sum­mer to help other peo­ple,” said her friend, Mi­randa Thomas, 17.

A “so­cial jus­tice war­rior,” as an obit­u­ary de­clared, Katie was part of a group of young Chris­tian women who meet for a yearly re­treat to dis­cuss such causes. She was set to at­tend a United Methodist Women’s lead­er­ship week­end this fall and cen­tered part of her ad­vo­cacy on the LGBTQ com­mu­nity after a gay friend left the church.

“It was some­thing Katie felt strongly about. It wasn’t only in church — she stood up for her in school too,” said Diane Miller, for­mer mis­sion co­or­di­na­tor for the West­ern Penn­syl­va­nia Con­fer­ence of the United Methodist Church.

“She had a global view of things that was way be­yond her years, but she wasn’t at all pre­ten­tious about it,” said Luca Pas­sarelli, Ne­shan­nock High School prin­ci­pal.

One re­cent evening, Katie sat on the couch with her lap­top, por­ing over a col­lege ap­pli­ca­tion. The Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh wanted to know how the school would be a bet­ter place with her pres­ence, and her mother watched as Katie strug­gled to an­swer.

“She didn’t know how to an­swer the ques­tion, and I just kind of looked at her and I said, ‘Isn’t your legacy in the lit­tle things you do ev­ery day?’ ”

Katie is sur­vived by her par­ents, Wil­liam B. and Chris­tine A. Langs­dale Par­ish; grand­mother, Bon­nie I. Par­ish of Rac­coon; and grand­fa­ther, Howard McClel­lan of Am­bridge.

The fam­ily will re­ceive friends and fel­low stu­dents from 2 to 4 p.m. Satur­day at the Ne­shan­nock High School au­di­to­rium. A Cel­e­bra­tion of Life ser­vice will fol­low at 4 p.m. in the au­di­to­rium. Me­mo­rial con­tri­bu­tions can be made in her name to the Katie Par­ish me­mo­rial fund at First Na­tional Bank, 3200 Wilm­ing­ton Road, New Cas­tle,PA 16105.

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