Aileen  Parish

Aileen Parish

Aileen Reel Parish

Wendell – Aileen Reel Parish, 85, passed away December 1, 2011 at WakeMed, surrounded by her loving family. She was born in Pamlico County on September 16, 1926, to the late Edmund Reel and Lula Paul Reel of Arapahoe, NC.  After graduating from Arapahoe High School, valedictorian for the Class of 1943, she attended Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) where she was president of the Golden Knot Honor Society and Sigma Tau Chi. She graduated cum laude in 1947 with a double major in English and Music.  Aileen enjoyed teaching in Angier, Clayton, and later, Wendell/Knightdale’s Vaiden Whitley High School.  She and Bill Parish were married in Arapahoe in 1951 and made Wendell their home.  But Aileen never forgot her Pamlico County roots, visiting Arapahoe with Bill and supporting her hometown church, Bethany Christian.  Aileen was active in Wendell and Wake County.  She served a 4 year term as Wendell’s Town Commissioner.  She delivered Meals on Wheels for years, volunteered on Wake County’s Recreation Committee and was an active member of Wendell’s Rotary Club.  Aileen along with Bill was a dedicated Barton College Alumna and served on Barton’s Board of Trustees.  Throughout her life, she shared her gift of music.  She sang with the Raleigh Oratorio Society, Hillyer Memorial’s Community Chorus, served on the NC Symphony Board and was a devoted volunteer for 35 years as choir director for Wendell Christian Church.  She also served as deacon, elder, and chair of the board at Wendell Christian.  Aileen was a lifelong member of the Thursday Afternoon Literary Club.  Into her 70’s Aileen enjoyed playing tennis and remained competitive on the court.  She was passionate about her flowers, and even at 82, loved being outside working amid nature.  Aileen had a keen mind, loving her daily crossword puzzles and playing bridge with dear friends.  But her greatest love was her family.  She and Bill were constant companions, enjoying many worldwide trips and cruises together, accompanied by their daughters and their families.  Through the years, Aileen provided unconditional love and support to her daughters and grandchildren.  She shared with them a love for music, the arts, and giving back to their communities.  Her vibrant spirit lives on in her family, her students, her friends, and all those she touched and influenced.

A celebration of her life will be held Sunday, December 4, 2:30 pm, at Wendell Christian Church with Rev. Tom Hill and Rev. David Mallory presiding.  Interment will follow in Greenmount Cemetery, Wendell, NC.

Aileen is survived by her loving husband of 60 years Bill of the home, daughter Tricia Parish of Raleigh, and grandsons Casey, UNC Asheville, and Alex Ward, Elon University, daughter Phyllis Parish Howard, son-in-law Seab Howard of Raleigh, and granddaughter Gabrielle “Gabby” Howard,  UNC Chapel Hill.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Aileen and Bill Parish Family Endowed Scholarship Fund, Barton College, PO Box 5000, Wilson, NC, 27893 are welcomed.

The family especially thanks Chrystal Brown for her loving care of Aileen for 3 years.

Visitation will be held today, 4:30 to 6:00 pm, Strickland Funeral Home, 211 W. Third St., Wendell, and other times at the home.  Please share your photos, condolences, or memories of Aileen at

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