Jesse J. Parrish, Jr. (1912-1989)
Nevin Fruit Company
Citrus Code of 1949
United Growers & Shipper Foundation
Florida Citrus Mutual
Florida Citrus Commission
Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
Shippers Advisory Committee
Joint Citrus Industry Legislative Committee
Florida Fresh Citrus Shippers Association
Indian River Citrus League
Florida Citrus Grapefruit Committee
Florida Orange Marketers
On December 10, 1912, Jesse J. Parrish, Jr. was born in his family’s Titusville home, which was fittingly situated in their fields of citrus groves. Parrish attended the University of Florida, earned a law degree and returned to Titusville where he opened a practice and continued his family’s citrus operations. At the outbreak of World War II, Parrish joined the military, eventually attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel. Except for college and his military service, Parrish lived his entire life in Titusville.
Parrish’s father, Jesse Parrish, Sr. served many years in the Florida Legislature, and was Senate president for 1929 and 1930. Parrish Jr. dedicated himself to his family’s extensive citrus holdings and the packing and sales operations of Nevins Fruit Company, which he headed for forty years. Parrish could be described as a great believer in the citrus establishment. He always advocated for the uniting of the citrus industry under one common cause, to attain the greatest benefits for all involved. In 1949 Parrish helped lead an effort to write the state’s Citrus code, which developed the basic quality requirements for citrus.
According to newspaperwoman Nancy Hardy, Parrish’s regular work clothes consisted of seersucker suits and Panama straw hats in the summer, and blue pin-stripes and grey felt in the winter. Those elegant clothes, very different from the casual plaid shirts and half-boots of most citrus growers, allowed Parrish to always be ready for upcoming board meetings and community sessions, of which there were an abundance. Parrish served on a great number of organizations, the most prominent perhaps being the original United Growers and Shippers Foundation.
Along with the United Growers and Shippers Foundation, Parrish either worked as a member of the board or as an officer of the Florida Citrus commission, Florida Citrus Mutual, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, Shippers Advisory Committee, Joint Citrus Industry Legislative Committee, Florida Fresh Citrus Shippers Association, Indian River Citrus League, Florida Citrus Grapefruit Committee, and the Florida Orange Marketers. Throughout his life Parrish assisted various legislative committees in their drafting of legislation for the Citrus Industry. Industry representatives used to joke that if they could just figure out how to get him on the board of the Florida Citrus Processors Association he could have a meeting of the JCILC (Joint Citrus Industry Legislative Committee) all by himself.
Despite his soft-spoken attributes and his laid back personality, Parrish often made the fullness of his presence felt. Florida Citrus Mutual executive VP Bobby F. McKown praised Parrish for “his willingness to become involved in any organization, industry, statewide or national, where he felt his presence could benefit citrus growers. He was a fine gentleman in everything he did.” In March of 1988, one year before his death, Parrish was inducted into to the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame, along with William G. Strickland. At the age of 76, Parrish died at Jess Parish Memorial Hospital, named for his late father. Parrish will be remembered by many in Titusville for his love of the Indian River citrus industry and its people.