His friends say nearly everyone in the town knew Rex Bryan Parish, a longtime Gig Harbor resident and 1973 Peninsula High School graduate.
Parish, 60, died earlier this month after falling off a pier and drowning while on a commercial fishing trip in San Francisco, said a longtime friend, Kenton Bennett.
“He fished with half of everyone in the Harbor at some point,” Bennett said. “Everybody knows him. It’s unbelievable the number of people who know him.”
Parish had been squid fishing on the Erin Carroll, based out of Ventura, California, with skipper Roger Smith. According to Bennett, Parish was last seen about 7 p.m. Sept. 6, when he was returning to the boat, which was docked at the pier.
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The next morning, a crew member found Parish’s sunglasses resting on the edge of the pier near the boat and filed a missing person report with police.
Parish’s body was found in the water under the pier the morning of Sept. 8, Bennett said. It appears Parish was stepping from the pier into the Erin Carroll when he fell and hit a piling protector before tumbling into the water.
Because Parish was a member of the fishing crew, his death is considered a fishing-related accident, Bennett said.
Parish had worked as a commercial fisherman since he was 18, according to Bennett, who said his friend’s first job was with Randy Babich in Gig Harbor.
Parish’s father, Merrill Parish, was Gig Harbor’s second mayor, serving from 1955 to 1960, and was an early developer in the area.
Parish’s son, Kristopher “Pat” Walker, will be traveling from his home in Texas to Gig Harbor with his father’s ashes in time for a memorial service Oct. 9 at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club.
Parish’s ashes will be spread from a boat into the Harbor.
Memories of Parish inspire laughter in Bennett, who remembers trips golfing at local courses.
“He was a really good golfer ... (and) an excellent pool player,” Bennett recalled. “He always had something to say about something, but not harsh.”
For Parish’s older brother, Pat, the memories and storytelling will help him grieve.
“I just try to remember Rex and what his life was about and try to live a better one myself,” he said.
Parish is survived by his son, Pat, and granddaughter, Taylor.
A memorial for Rex Bryan Parish will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club, 8209 Stinson Ave.