Garden serves as tribute to Brittany Parrish

by Sonja J. Keith

While 11-year-old Brittany Parrish’s dream of attending Central Baptist College was never realized, the young girl has a special place dedicated in her memory on campus.

Brittany died Nov. 3, 1992, after accidentally ingesting a balloon that lodged in her voice box. Although she was still years away from attending college, she had already planned to study at CBC with her best friend Jessica Jameson, whose father teaches at the college.

CBC President Terry Kimbrow thought it would be a fitting tribute to dedicate a garden along the east side of the new David T. Watkins Academic Building in Brittany’s memory. “Donny and Datha (Brittany’s parents) have sacrificed so much,” adding that his family and the Parrish family have been acquainted for many years. He added that many have heard about Brittany and her plan to attend CBC. “I knew a lot of people knew her story and would respond.”

The lead gift for the garden — $15,000 — was donated by the senior adult conference that Donny leads for the Baptist Missionary Association. In addition, more than $6,000 was donated through a love offering held at the SOAR youth conference. CBC faculty and staff have also donated. So far, $30,000 of the $50,000 has been raised for the garden, which features various shrubs, day lilies and Knockout Roses.

“We’re honored that they would think of Brittany and remember her,” Donny said. “It’s pretty humbling.”

Donny and Datha recently had an opportunity to see the memorial garden dedicated to Brittany and tour the new building. Donny pointed out that Brittany is one of many people honored and memorialized in the new building.

Both are appreciative of Terry, the CBC board and faculty, many who were charter donors for the garden. “We’re just honored they would do this in her memory,” Donny said. “I’m excited about the future of Central Baptist College. Terry Kimbrow has a vision to lead CBC to be one of the unique colleges in the state of Arkansas, where students can receive a world class education and people invest in your life spiritually.”

With the garden, Brittany will now be part of the culture at CBC. “That’s a blessing to think about,” Donny said. “I miss her now more than I ever have.”

Donny doesn’t want to forget the sound of her voice, how it felt to be hugged by her or her laughter. “Everybody else goes on with their life but your world stops and you don’t want her little light to be forgotten,” he said. “That’s one reason it’s so very kind and nice that people would remember her 20 years after her passing. In our hearts, she’ll never be forgotten.”

(See the complete story about the Brittany Parrish Memorial Garden in the September issue of 501 LIFE.)