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Longtime Va. Delegate Collapses

Parrish, 82, Stable After Falling Ill at Prayer Breakfast

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 6, 2004; Page B04

Virginia Del. Harry J. Parrish (R-Manassas), the chairman of the House Finance Committee, collapsed at a prayer breakfast yesterday morning and was taken to Inova Alexandria Hospital, according to friends, fellow lawmakers and legislative officials.

His close friend Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William) said that Parrish was recovering well in the intensive care unit. Colgan said he talked to Parrish's wife, Mattie, and daughter, Judy, midway through the day.


Del. Harry J. Parrish, the 10th most senior member of the House of Delegates, chairs the Finance Committee. (Robert A. Reeder -- The Washington Post)

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"They said he's doing good. It's not as serious as they thought, but there was still one more test to do," Colgan said. "I was really happy when they came out of the ICU smiling."

Parrish, 82, was attending a meeting of the Virginia Municipal League at an Alexandria hotel when he collapsed, according to a statement issued by Bruce Jamerson, the clerk of the House of Delegates. Jamerson said later that Parrish was in stable condition undergoing further tests.

"Please keep Delegate Parrish in your thoughts and prayers," Jamerson wrote in the e-mail.

Mike Edwards, chief lobbyist for the municipal league, said that Parrish was attending a prayer breakfast for former presidents of the organization when he slumped over in his chair. Parrish was the group's president in 1970.

Edwards said that Parrish was taken to the hallway of the hotel. When emergency workers arrived, Edwards said, Parrish was conscious.

Beth Visioli, a spokeswoman for Inova Alexandria Hospital, would not confirm that Parrish was at the hospital.

Last year, just as the General Assembly began in January, Parrish was hospitalized for several days with a serious case of pneumonia. Parrish returned quickly to the legislature, however, helping to move a landmark tax and budget bill through his committee and ultimately into law.

Parrish is the 10th most senior member of the House of Delegates. His first term in office began in 1982, under Democratic rule. When Republicans took control of the legislature in 1999, Parrish was elevated to chairman of the Finance Committee.

Colgan and others hailed Parrish for his 22-year service in the General Assembly. Before that, Parrish served for more than 20 years as a city council member and mayor of the city of Manassas.

"One time, we had a group of people at a reception celebrating my 20 years in public office," Colgan recalled. "He had 20 years when I started."

During a speech in McLean, Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) asked the audience to keep Parrish in their thoughts. "He's extremely well-respected," Warner said later. "He's one of the true Virginia gentlemen who was a key person in budget and tax reform."

Staff writer Maria Glod contributed to this report.


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