Teen who found value in little things
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.