I have a friend who will always go to bat for you. He will always go the extra yard, no matter how much it inconveniences him. He’s cut from the same cloth as Will Rogers (look him up…), never meeting someone who he didn’t like, and no one that’s ever met him thinks him less than a saint. My friend Steve lives to mentor, and with his long years of experience trekking all over the mountainous West, he has a lot of knowledge to pass on. Out here in A.B. Guthrie and Bernard De Voto country, we’ve all sat in on at least one of his workshops.
Many of us, the lucky ones, have heard some of his numerous stories (probably more than once). My favorite is the Hollywood star screaming obscenities at him because his survey showed her expensive landscaping and horse corral encroaching quite far into federal lands. It was as though Forest Service boundaries were just vague suggestions, not relevant to the rich. I would imagine that he was never less than completely polite during this exchange, but for Miss Bright Lights, grace was nowhere to be seen. He tells the story without any schadenfreude, without any “look who got the last laugh” attitude, in fact without any emotion all, which is what makes the telling of it so funny. Just another day of Steve doing his job. Anyhow, like Johnny Cash, he’s been everywhere, man.
Steve, it seems to me, never set out to do any more than honor the old adage of “following in the footsteps” of his forbears, as he retraced original surveys all over the west. He took that adage to heart and in the conduct of his daily work, became a giant of the Public Lands. After retiring from public service, he has become equal parts expert witness and everybody’s wise uncle, and in the process, Steve is leaving his own sizable set of footsteps across our profession. To follow in these footsteps, one need only have a little humility, treat fellow surveyors with equanimity and offer them a helping hand when they need one.
Of late Steve struggles with cancer and the age-old question, which is worse, the disease or the treatment? His take on increasing amount of his life spent in doctors’ offices? “It beats the alternative.” Yet even in pain and sickness he still finds time enough and energy enough to continue to provide educational resources for his fellow surveyors. Think about that for a minute.
I have a friend named Steve Parrish. If you have ever met him, so do you.
Good luck and Godspeed old friend.