In Remembrance of Dr. James Parrish

Our dear colleague and friend, James Parrish, passed away on May 8th.

Dr. James D. Parrish 78 – fishery biologist, jazz enthusiast, world traveler, and family man – passed away May 8th 2014 in Kailua, Hawaii. “Jim” was born December 18, 1935 in Bennettsville, South Carolina to educators William Salter and Lillian Bruce Parrish. He graduated first in his class in 1956 from the University of S.C. where he obtained a degree in mechanical engineering and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, and Tau Beta Pi. He was a first lieutenant and aircraft maintenance officer in the US Air Force (1956-1959). While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, he discovered scuba diving and a lifelong interest in the ocean. Upon completion of military service, he worked for General Electric’s Gas Turbine Division throughout the Americas (1959-1967). During this time he met and married his wife Margaret Cantwell and started a family. From 1967-1972, he attended the University of Rhode Island in Kingston and earned his PhD in Biological Oceanography. The family then moved to Puerto Rico where Jim worked at the Nuclear Center in Mayaguez (1972-1975) as an environmental researcher evaluating the potential impact of power station construction and operation on marine ecology. He participated in a number of projects including working in the underwater laboratory “La Chalupa” as an aquanaut. In 1975 he joined Massachusetts Cooperative Fishery Research Unit in Amherst as the Assistant Leader and then moved to Hawaii Cooperative Fishery Research Unit at the University of Hawaii, Manoa where he served as leader from 1977 to 2006. He conducted scientific research to support management of streams, estuaries, coral reefs and marine slope communities in the Hawaiian Archipelago including the remote northwestern Islands, and other locations in the Pacific. Collaborating with State, Federal, and University researchers these projects produced quantitative studies on the diet of marine fishes that has enabled the marine science field to construct food webs and improve the understanding of energy flow in marine ecosystems. He taught the Fisheries Science course in the university’s Department of Zoology, published peer reviewed papers, served on advisory groups, and mentored a number of graduate students in the field of marine research. In addition to his contributions to Marine Science, Jim Parrish was an avid patron of the arts with interests in the theater, opera, and jazz. He routinely volunteered his time to support the arts and regularly attended multiple events throughout Honolulu, often in a single evening. Throughout his life, he relentlessly pursued his passions while practicing a conservation-minded philosophy with good humor: commuting by bike and bus, eliminating waste, and working for a sustainable future. Following his adventurous spirit, the work he enjoyed, and a love of waterfalls and the ocean he led his family on working vacations to many remote parts of the globe. His strength of character, keen wit, integrity, and generosity have left an indelible impression on those who knew him. He was a devoted husband, supportive father, and doting grandfather. He was preceded in death by both his parents and brother, Bruce Parrish, and is survived by his wife and soul-mate of fifty-three years, Mig, his sons, Frank and Sean, and three grandchildren, Antonia, Scott and Conrad. The family will celebrate his life privately and scatter his ashes at sea. Memorial contributions may be made in his name to

Last Modified: 
05/20/2014 at 9:07am