Parrish Williams

David Kaufman dvklinguist2003 at
Tue Oct 6 04:09:10 UTC 2009

I am sorry to hear about the death of Parrish Williams.  I didn't know him personally, but I've heard Kathy talk about him many times.  Kathy, let me know if you need anything, and have a safe trip back to OK.


--- On Mon, 10/5/09, Kathleen Shea <kdshea at> wrote:

From: Kathleen Shea <kdshea at>
Subject: Re: Parrish Williams
To: siouan at lists.Colorado.EDU
Date: Monday, October 5, 2009, 8:51 PM


Thank-you, Bob, for posting this on the Siouan list for me 
and, Jill, for your kind comments.  I don't have it in me to write much at 
this time, but I will try to give a fuller report to the list later.  I'll 
copy here what I wrote tonight to my family in California to let them know what 
has ocurred:

Parrish Williams--"Uncle" Parrish--passed away Sunday morning 
peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family.  He was 96.  I had just 
gotten to Ponca City Saturday night.  I went to a prayer meeting led by the 
Methodist minister at his home last night, where the funeral will be 
Wednesday.  There will be an all-night meeting of the Native American 
Church at the home Tuesday night. (Uncle Parrish was very ecumenical.)  As 
is traditional, the funeral takes place on the fourth day, with a feast, 
give-away, and a graveside ceremony.
His death was timely but of course still a shock.  I am saddened, 
will miss him, and learned a lot from him.  His family are good people and 
treated me very well, accepting me as one of the family.  I'm writing this 
from Lawrence, where I drove today to try to get my 2008 taxes in the mail, and 
I'll drive back down to Ponca City for the supper before the NAC meeting 
tomorrow.  I just wanted you to know what's happening to me and my 
whereabouts.  If you want to read his obituary, it should appear in 
tomorrow afternoon's Ponca City News at  
Please spread the word to others if you like, as I'm afraid of leaving someone 
out if I try to add more e-mail addresses.
Jill, I just want to add that, when I first went to 
Oklahoma in the summer of 1994 to start working with Uncle Parrish, he told me 
that it was due largely to Grandpa Truman's encouragement and good experience 
working with you, Lori Stanley, and Louanna Furbee that he decided to meet me 
and ultimately committed himself to working with me as long as I stayed with the 
project. He proved to be an extremely intelligent and excellent teacher. 
Grandpa Truman was about ten years older than Uncle Parrish and was one of his 
mentors.  I would say that they were both magnanimous, interested in the 
welfare of their people, and true citizens of the world.  Another strong 
mentor for Uncle Parrish was his grandpa (?) Ed Packhorse, who gave him his 
fireplace.  Uncle Parrish always aspired to live as long as Grandpa Ed, and 
he did!  (Grandpa Truman lived to be about the same age as both of them, 
too.)  I'm very lucky to have had Uncle Parrish as my teacher, friend, and 
adopted relative for as long as I have--fifteen years.

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  Jill Greer 
  To: siouan at lists.Colorado.EDU 
  Sent: Monday, October 05, 2009 11:38 
  Subject: Re: Parrish Williams

And a truly wonderful human being.  
  I count it one of the privileges of my life to have met Parrish and 
  been a guest in his tipi.  
  One of our Iowa elders, Arthur Lightfoot had an adoptive relation to 
  Parrish's late wife, so that was the context for initially meeting 
  him.  He and Grampa Truman Dailey (Otoe-Missouria) were called upon 
  to fly to Portland (?) to testify for Sen. Inouwe's committee on 
  religious freedom after the Smith vs. Oregon case, and both of these elder 
  roadman's testimonies appear in the wonderful Kifaru Production 
  documentary Peyote Road.  He was also featured in  
  Alice Anderton's "Word Path" program, which was such a wonderful episode 
  I often use it in my classes.  
>>> "Rankin, Robert L" <rankin at> 10/5/2009 10:41 
  AM >>>

Kathy Shea sends the sad news that Parrish 
  Williams has died.  He was a fluent Ponca speaker, a tribal elder and an 
  important figure in the Native American 


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