Dr. Robert W. Parris
Dr. Robert W. Parris -MACON - Dr. Robert W. Parris, 59, passed away Thursday, September 22, 2011 following a courageous battle with esophageal cancer. Funeral services will be held at 10A.M. Saturday, September 24, 2011 at Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Macon. Father David Probst will officiate. Interment will be private. -Dr. Parris was the Charles B. Thompson Professor of Music and University Organist of Mercer University, where he was appointed to the faculty in 1979. In that capacity he taught organ and harpsichord, as well as courses in both music history and music theory at graduate and undergraduate levels. He was also Choirmaster and Organist of Christ Episcopal Church in Macon. -A native of Virginia, Dr. Parris received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester he earned a Performer's Certificate, and Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. Post-doctoral studies were undertaken in Boston and in northern Germany. -An international concert artist, Dr. Parris toured under Windwerks Concert Management. His command of historic performance technique has caused his frequent performances on significant antique instruments in northern Europe. In 2004 he was a featured performer at the AGO national convention in Los Angeles, appearing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in Walt Disney Hall. -Dr. Parris recorded repertoire by Mozart and Reger on the Spectrum label and music of Sowerby in an album titled "Jubilee" on Premier. His most recent recording was released in early 2006, a recital titled "Land of Rest" on the Loft Recordings label, including music of Buxtehude, Bach, Franck, Sowerby and Dupre. -Dr. Parris is survived by his wife of 31 years, Ellen Gifford Parris; four children, Lindley Wood (Gary), John Parris, Lauren Parris and Leah Parris, all of Macon, Georgia; parents, Mr. and Mrs. H.P. Parris of Salem, Virginia; and sister Dale Lee (Robert) of Salem, Virginia. -In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The Robert Parris Scholarship, Mercer University. -Register online at www.hartsmort.com. -Hart's Mortuary and Crematory, Cherry Street, has charge of arrangements.
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Published by The Telegraph from Sep. 23 to Sep. 24, 2011.
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45 Entries
I am so glad I got to know Bob through being on the Artist Recitals roster together. He was a genuine, caring individual who was also an outstanding organist. I remember what wonderful hosts Bob and Ellen were to me when I played a concert at Mercer University. He is missed!!
Marsha Foxgrover
September 16, 2020
Ellen, I am just learning of this through a friend of mine. Was so sorry to hear. Your family is still dear to my heart. I remembered seeing you all in 2010, but I am so sorry that I did not know.
Becky Evans
August 28, 2012
I was Dr. Parris' student from 1991-94. Simply put, he changed my life, and I wish I had known of his illness and subsequent passing before now. My years with him will live in my memory for the rest of my days. I won't forget you, Dr. Parris. Thank you for being in my life.
Michael Parks
April 28, 2012
My heartfelt condolences to Bob's parents and family. He was a good friend at UNC, and I always enjoyed listening to him practice and play. Veterem amicum, requiescat in pace.
William O. Autry
November 3, 2011
Dear Ellen and family,

Bob was a true gentleman and quite a lot of fun to be around. I was a student of his before I left Mercer, but his love of music history and music in general, has stayed with me as I am now a band director. Many of my students will tell you that I am always talking about the history of the pieces that we play and a tremendous amount of the stories that I tell I learned from him.

God Bless You All and you are in my prayers.
Rodney Brown
October 3, 2011
My thoughts are with the Parris family with the loss of Bob. He was a kind and genuine colleague at Mercer who gave the University the gift of music and of himself. Any event at which Bob played was so very enhanced by his ability to bring music to life. In addition to your great family loss, Mercer has lost a most valuable professor. Hopefully, your memories will help ease your loss.
Anne Hathaway
Anne Hathaway
October 2, 2011
I am so sorry to learn of Bobby's death from our church choir director. We grew up together in the same church-St. Paul's in Salem and Bobby offered a name for consideration as our Priest just a short few months ago. He was truly a talented individual that will be missed by many.
Carey Harveycutter
September 30, 2011
Ellen & family,
My prayers are with you all, and I’m heartbroken at the loss of Bob.
I would not have made it through Mercer if it wasn’t for Bob and his confidence in me. I was an arrogant, foolish child who was ready to drop my music major after burning through every piano professor in the department. Bob offered to take me on as one of his first organ majors...despite the fact that I had never actually played organ. (I can still see Bob’s grin when I mentioned that seemingly important tidbit. He just shrugged and said “So?”)
Bob helped me rediscover the joy I had lost; the joy I hadn’t even REALIZED I’d lost. He broke me down, and built me back into a musician. I can still remember every note of my senior recital. I remember the haunting, textural beauty of Messiaen’s “Apparition de l'Église Éternelle” and the grand silliness of Albright’s “King Of Instruments”.
Anna and I were honored (and I use the word “honored” specifically and purposefully) to have Bob play the organ at our wedding. Walking down the aisle after the ceremony as Bob played Widor’s “Toccata” was an unforgettable moment.
I am a better musician, but more importantly a better man, for having Bob Parris in my life for those too brief years. I will continue to treasure the memories. May God in His grace and mercy keep Bob close in your hearts and minds.
Paul Joseph
September 29, 2011
Dear Ms. Ellen,

Although, I have never met your husband, it sounds as though he was an amazing person that will be greatly missed. I am so sorry for your loss. We will be praying for you and your children to find comfort and peace in the days to come. Emma Kate loves and misses you and will be working hard at school until the time is right for you to return.

With love,

The Perry Family
September 26, 2011
Deepest condolences to the Parris family. And to Bob’s colleagues and students in the Townsend School of Music. Bob Parris often invited me to his senior capstone classes to read; he assigned readings in the poems. I thought he took some chances in his capstone course, challenging himself intellectually, exploring the artistic side of Mercer, and introducing his students to worlds beyond their majors. In music he was superb. In reaching out to touch his students in this humane fashion he was also a great teacher.
Stephen Bluestone
September 26, 2011
I went to high school with Bobby and was a majorette when he was drum major. He was such a fun guy and we all knew he was destined for great things. I am so sorry to hear of his passing at such a young age, but he is leaving quite a legacy. My heart goes out to his family. Kathy Buckland Heer
September 26, 2011
Ellen and family,
Please accept my deepest sympathy on Bob's passing. He was one of history's small handful of the most accomplished and insighful interpreters of Sowerby's music--and many other musics as well. And what a magnificent human being--the Creator's work at its best. We are all richer for his having been among us and all the poorer this day.
Francis Crociata
September 25, 2011
I am so sorry to hear about Bobby. I went all through school with him, elementary through high school. I pray God grants you comfort.
Karen Robertson
September 24, 2011
We have lost a great organist who was passionate about his vocation. He added so much to our understanding of early organ music, and I consider his passing a personal loss. My thoughts and prayers are with Ellen and the family.
Marsha Foxgrover
September 24, 2011
We will miss you brother. You brought much happiness to so many of us through your years of loyality and magic shared with the special gifts you have. I know you are leading the choir right now in paradise.

My heartfelt love and devotion go out to you and everyone who had the distinct honor to know you.

Mercer Alumni,
Ray Shepherd, Jr.
September 24, 2011
Alex and I are so saddened to hear about Bobby! I went to high school and was in the band with him. My favorite memory is of him playing the organ at our wedding! Many times over the years (it has been 39 years!) I have wished I kept a record of what he played. It was beautiful! Alex's great-aunt said, "The music was beautiful, but it sure was loud!" We loved it!! He will be missed. Lisa and Alex Brown, Salem, Virginia
Lisa Brown
September 24, 2011
Robert and I were good friends during my tenure at Mercer during the 80s and 90s. He is a great loss to the Mercer community, especailly the students. And a loss to the music world for his great talent on the organ and harpsichord. Bob and I were runners, and enjoyed a few road races together. He can be replaced but his shoes cannot be filled. He was a professor in the true sense: a love of his discipline; a love of his students; a love of the University; a love of his community; a love of his family and a love of God. Truly a whole person.
Our prayers are for you and with your family.
Bill and Winnie Neace
September 24, 2011
Ellen and family:
My thoughts and prayers will be with you today and in the days to come. There are no words to adequately expess my sorrow for the loss of this wonderful and talented man. I would see him from time to time and, before Morgan passed, Bob always wanted to know how he was doing. I remember when ya'll bought your house and we were visiting, they had a wonderful discussion about building and construction. I know you guys will miss your dad/husband terribly but, I'm told there is light ahead. Just know that there are so many caring friends. Love to all.
-Betty Barlow, Macon, Georgia
September 24, 2011
I am so saddened today to learn of your great loss. My mind has been flooded with memories of Dr. Parris' arrival at Mercer, where I was one of only about three organ students at the time. He believed in me so much more than I believed in myself. His encouragement and patience meant the world to me. And how I loved to hear him play!
Know that I will be remembering you in my prayers during this difficult time.
Terry Wall Ivey
September 24, 2011
I am sincerely sorry for your loss. On behalf of The staff at Georgia Cancer Specialist please accept our condolences.
Cherri Lavender
September 24, 2011
Our prayers go out to you. The Spanglers
Wayne Spangler
September 24, 2011
We miss him greatly, but Bob's scholarship, brilliant music-making and general enthusiam will live on in the many people his life touched. May God bless his rest, and grant peace and comfort to his family, friends, colleagues, students, and all who mourn his departure.
David Hurd
September 24, 2011
Bobby was my student in Salem. In truth, he taught me how to be a band director.
Dennis Reaser
September 24, 2011
Suann Strickland
September 24, 2011
I am sorry to hear of our loss. I remember my 8am music history class with Dr.Paris well. I am sure the the sounds of his music will be missed by all.
Adam Mitchell
September 23, 2011
Blessing and peace to you Ellen and family. I can only imagine how sad you are, but will continue to keep you and your family in my daily prayers.
Catherine Meeks
catherine meeks
September 23, 2011
Please accept our deepest sympathies.
Lynn & Carol Stokes
September 23, 2011
Cindy Hill
September 23, 2011
Dear Ellen and girls,
Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with your family. Bob was an awesome guy, as we are sure that you know, and his presence on Earth will be greatly missed.

Deb Barlow, Jenn Erion Elliott, Joanna Erion
Deb Barlow (Erion)
September 23, 2011
Dear Mrs Parris

I enjoyed Dr Parris music but enjoyed his friendship and kindness when we would get together at the golf course. My condolences to you and your family
Jim Hickman
September 23, 2011
Ellen, I am so very sorry for your loss. You and your sweet family are in my prayers. Melinda Olmstead
Melinda Olmstead
September 23, 2011
Dear Ellen and family,

We offer you our sincere condolences. May you find Peace, Healing and Comfort in His Grace.

With love,
Stuart & Deborah Wilson
September 23, 2011
Bob was a phenomenal musician & such an inspiration. He had accompanied me on several occasions, the most memorable being a memorial service at Mercer, which despite best efforts, did not go quite as planned. Whereas most musicians would have been flustered &/or frustrated, Bob improvised & turned what could have been a absolute disaster, into a complete success! And no one was the wiser. Bob was so talented & played so beautifully; his personality matched his music. He was so personable, amiable and fun - a true joy to work with. He will certainly be missed. My deepest & most heart-felt condolences to Ellen, the kids, and the entire family.
Laura Bialon
September 23, 2011
Dear Ellen and Family,

My condolences to you and your family on your loss. Ellen, I know what you have been through and I know it is with God's Peace that you will approach the coming days. Your music pleases me so much and I know it will continue for your sake and Bob's.

Bless you and your family.
Pam Candler
September 23, 2011
My heartfelt condolences to Dr. Parris' family...Dr. Parris, Bob, was a dear colleague at Mercer. He also endeared himself to my family when he played the organ at St. Joseph's Church for my youngest son's and his bride's wedding, performing, at their request, the majestic wedding march from the "Sound of Music". I always looked forward to University functions so that we could hear Bob play. Special thoughts of love and sympathy to Lyndley, one of my former field students in the Tift College of Education. Dr. Robert Parris will be missed by many...
Carolyn R. Garvin
September 23, 2011
Dear Parris family,

It was my great privilege to share a campus with Bob for almost thirty years. He was an extremely thoughtful and energetic colleague, able at once to give freely of himself while maintaining the highest standards, not only in music but also in his life as well. As most academics will, we had our moments of disagreement, but Bob was invariably amiable, kind, and warm. The range of his interests extended far beyond music which, next to his family, was the great passion of his life. He will be sorely missed.

May the company of family and friends bring comfort to you all in the coming days.
Gary Richardson
September 23, 2011
hey parris famley henry walsh anne walsh son I am sorry about mr. parris hes with Jesus like my mom anne walsh they will be missed. Keep your faith in Jesus he will help. [email protected]
henry walsh
September 23, 2011
Ellen, You will be remembered in prayer for comfort and peace in the days ahead. Thanks for your support when I had Evans Music. Love to you and your family.
Marilyn Gay
September 23, 2011

Let nothing ever grieve thee;
Not pain, nor sorrow, not loss of life.
For in pain is feeling;
In sorrow, understanding;
And in loss of life, the Joy of the
Everlasting Spirit.
Eloise S Wolfersteig
September 23, 2011
I have always treasured my friendship with Bob, and pray for God's deepest comfort to Ellen and the children.
Byrd Wyatt
September 23, 2011
I have lost a great friend.
Although we didn't see eye to eye on every type of music, I have learned so much from being in the choir. I love the way you would stop us during rehearsal and tell us the history of a piece and of the composer.
Bob, you had such high expectations of us as a choir. It worth all the hard work just to see your grin when we had nailed it.
I have watched as you were diagnosed with cancer. Your treatments were hard, but you never gave up or complained. You fought with so much courage and determination. Even to the end, your concern for others was amazing. As you held court from your hospital bed, you made sure we all had something to eat or drink and were comfortable.
I will miss you my friend, but know that you are no longer in pain and are healed. And I am certain that you are holding court in heaven playing such beautiful music for all to enjoy. Thank you for your renewed gift of music for me, and for sharing your many talents with the awesome students whom you trained. They will carry on your legacy.
May God grant you a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.
To Ellen, Lindley, Gary, Johnboy, Lauren, and Leah; I pray that you will find peace and light in the coming months. Just know that your Christ Church family loves you all very much and thanks you for sharing your Bob with us.
Peggy Puryear
September 22, 2011
Bob Parris was a profound inspiration in my life. He was a special man, and shall never be forgotten. (Phil. 1:3) I’m still playing the organ today, and most thankful for the positive role he played on my life. What a special blessing to see him again this past May at St. Phillips, where he played such a superb recital!
May God’s perfect peace be with you Ellen, and your dear family throughout these difficult days. Be assured of my steadfast thoughts and prayers. Soli deo Gloria!
Bob Cash
September 22, 2011
Bob was one of several mentors who introduced me to all of what great music has to offer, and how it can touch every aspect of life. I came to love great church music under his teaching, and learned so much about worship and liturgy from him. Mary Lynn and I have cherished memories of making music together with Bob during our Mercer days. May our blessed Savior protect and comfort Ellen and all of the family. Soli Deo Gloria.
September 22, 2011
I am listening to Land of Rest as I write, remembering fondly Bob's fairly recent, stunning recital at the Crystal Cathedral in California. I'm sending heartfelt condolences and prayers for all those he loved.
Charles Smith
September 22, 2011
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Kim Sedghi-Reuter
September 22, 2011
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