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Each year, a host of newly minted graduates crosses the stage at Plymouth State University. Some subsequently settle in New Hampshire, while others venture farther afield. But all remain Panthers for Life, united by a shared educational experience and sense of connection with an alumni body that’s more than 37,000 strong. Many personify the adage of “Once a Panther, always a Panther,” especially longtime University supporter Carleton "Carl" Parish ’71.

Parish passed away on February 20, 2018, leaving behind a rich legacy of generosity and commitment to Plymouth State, an institution that he credited with shaping him both personally and professionally. “Plymouth made me a gentleman,” said Parish simply.

Over the years, Parish demonstrated that love and commitment repeatedly. As a senior, he joined forces with several other students to found Phi Beta Upsilon, a fraternity for returning veterans.

Following graduation, Parish maintained his connection with the University, giving generously of both his physical and fiscal resources. “Carleton was such a great role model for so many of us in terms of giving back, and he was unabashed in his approach to soliciting others,” notes classmate, friend, and former PSU Athletic Director John Clark ’71, ’73G. “He was a nontraditional student and very proud—of his time in the service, of the fraternity he helped to start, of our class, of Plymouth State in general. He kept in touch with dozens and dozens of our classmates and constantly encouraged others to support Plymouth State. He was very passionate about paying it forward.”

And Parish led by example. A proud member of two of the University’s vital fundraising bodies—the Holmes Heritage Society and the President’s Council—Parish was continuously looking for ways to aid his alma mater and honor those he held dear. Over the years, his donations reached nearly seven figures and encompassed, among other things, two endowed scholarships.

The first scholarship was motivated by somber circumstances. In February of 2011, Parish lost his beloved wife Sharon in a tragic car accident. Sharon Parish was a highly accomplished civil servant in her own right who enjoyed a distinguished career, first with the CIA, then with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

The second scholarship was the Carleton R. Parish ’71 Endowed Scholarship in Social Science, which supports deserving, high-achieving students seeking a social science degree.

Parish’s largest gift was part of his final bequest, a donation to the fundraising initiative for Plymouth State’s Stadium and Turf Field in honor of Clark. “I am deeply touched,” says Clark.

Meanwhile, as the University moves toward that goal, Plymouth State formally recognized Parish’s decades of unstinting support with the May 6, 2018, naming of the baseball field as the Sharon and Carleton ’71 Parish Field. “

“It’s incredible how many lives he has changed through his gifts to Plymouth State,” observes Clark. “He was affecting people through his generosity every day.”

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