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Oldham Countian of the Year

Brownsboro’s Parrish honored
with Oldham chamber award

He is credited with maintaining
Brownsboro Day, festival

By Don Ward
Editor

BUCKNER, Ky. (June 2006) – George Parrish is hard to miss in a crowd. That large frame of his is matched by a big heart in which he holds his love for his hometown of Brownsboro, Ky. To many, he IS Brownsboro – the man area residents may recall seeing driving a two-mule-powered wagon at annual parades and festivals.

George and Barbara Parrish

Photo by Don Ward

George Parrish and his wife, Barbara,
react to the news of his being named
Oldham Countian of the Year.

Brownsboro isn’t much more than a spec on the map along Hwy. 329, just a few miles north of the bustling I-71, but this small “burg” in central Oldham County has survived the onslaught of development in the fourth fastest-growing county in Kentucky. Some credit Parrish’s efforts to capture and preserve the history of the town – a history that is reflected in the Brownsboro Community Center and its corresponding nonprofit organization that puts on the annual Brownsboro Festival each year.
For his tireless efforts to preserve this small piece of Oldham County history, Parrish on May 9 was named the 2006 Oldham Countian of the Year by the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce. Last year’s winner, Lambert Franklin, presented the award by reading a short biography of the man prior to introducing a video, produced by Will Crawford’s Atticus Productions.
“I’m just flabbergasted,” said Parrish, 67, upon receiving the award. “I’ve seen this county transform. At one time, there were more mules than people here.”
The award, presented at the quarterly dinner at the John W. Black Community Center, has been presented annually since 1964 and goes to a county resident who “has made significant contributions to the growth, improvement and overall betterment of Oldham County,” according to the application. These contributions must be made through community service and volunteerism unrelated to the individual’s specific job responsibilities. Service could be to a specific city, area, or neighborhood within Oldham County or for Oldham County in general.

George Parrish

Photo by Don Ward

George Parrish receives his
award from last year's recipient,
Lambert Franklin (left), and chamber
director Deana Epperly-Karem.

The award is always kept a secret so efforts are made to surprise the recipient. Parrish and his wife of 49 years, Barbara, attended the dinner, where 20 family members sneaked into the back of the room as the video played, presenting commentary by close friends and family members.
Parrish bought his two Belgian mules, Hank and Frank, six years ago. He hitches them up to a wagon at special events, such as Oldham County Day. He also owns horses and loves gardening.
And history. This son of a tenant farmer has collected the names of all the postmasters who worked at the tiny Brownsboro post office before it was closed in 1907 and moved to Crestwood. He has the names of all the teachers who taught at the public school that operated in Brownsboro from 1910-1943.
In recent years, he has been a central force in upgrading the former schoolhouse into the Brownsboro Community Center. The building has been the site of many weddings and community meetings and gatherings over the years.
Parrish lives next door and cares for the center as if it were his own. He and his wife raised three sons, Lee, Carl and Anthony, while he served as the town’s constable for 24 years.

Oldham Countians of the Year
Past Winners
2006 George Parrish
2005 Lambert Franklin
2004 Fran Scott
2003 Barry & Bobbie Stoess
2002 Mary Broecker
2001 Kevin Eldridge
2000 W. Blake Haselton
1999 Jonathan Westbrook
1998 Joan Bryant
1997 Jim Zimmerman
1996 Bill Howard
1995 Steve Shultz
1994 Charles "Dee" Kelley
1993 Eddy Barber
1992 Robert A. Reid
1991 Dianne Earing
1990 Lee Clore
1989 Harold Smith
1988 Jim Hannah
1987 Dennis Deibel
1986 Gene Armstrong
1985 Bruce Hamilton
1984 A.L. Meacham
1983 Edward G. Houchin
1982 Howard Mahan
1981 Vivian Renhardt
1980 Dennis Fritz
1979 Robert Arvin
1978 Wendell Moore
1977 Arvel McMahan
1976 George F. Williamson
1975 Jim Chambers
1974 James A. Hall
1973 Richard Beard
1972 J.T. Walsh, M.D.
1971 Clayton Stoess Sr.
1970 Richard Radcliffe
1969 Charles F. Lambert
1968 Hiram Taylor
1967 Clyde Taylor
1966 Joe Tom Clifton
1965 Alton Ross
1964 Milton C. Stoess

“He was 24 or 25 years old when they put him in as president of the community center, and ever since then we eat, we drink, we sleep the Brownsboro Community Center,” said Barbara on the video presentation. The couple lives next door and handles bookings for weddings and special events at the center.
Parrish’s latest project is to open an old country story, blacksmith shop and museum in a building he is remodeling that sits on Hwy. 329 just across the road from the Brownsboro Eatery. From there, he plans to offer wagon rides on Old Zaring Road and sell such items as fresh fruits and country ham.
“He’s been the mayor, the police chief and the fire chief. He’s even got his own fire truck,” said Barry Stoess on the video. “He’s such an integral part of that community. He defines it and he defends it.”
Lee, Parrish’s son, said his father loves his mules and enjoys giving people rides in his mule-drawn wagon. “He tries to use his mules to show people how it used to be and how things have changed.”
The Brownsboro Community Center, Inc., a nonprofit organization established in 1971. The center, composed of 80 families, operates as a civic league or organization, which promotes the social welfare of the Brownsboro Community and for the members of the center.
The main building of the center dates to 1868, according to the date inscribed on a stone gatepost. It sits on approximately 2 1/2 acres of land. First known as Brownsboro College, the building was used as a public school until 1943 when its remaining 16 students transferred to Crestwood.
At that point, 25 residents formed the Brownsboro Civic Club and leased the property for $1 and maintained it the next 25 years. Upon the lease’s expiration, the Brownsboro Community Center bought the property from the Oldham County Board of Education and remodeled it. The annual Brownsboro Festival helps fund the building’s maintenance and use for civic group meetings.
On the video, Sen. Ernie Harris, a neighbor, said, “George’s commitment to keep it going is what makes the festival what it is today.”

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