The Mary Parrish Center is named in honor of the late Mary E. Parrish, a heroic survivor of domestic violence. Mary was born November 30, 1927. The oldest of six siblings, she grew up in the Middle Tennessee area in a farming community. Mary was taken out of school during the sixth grade to help on the farm. It was there she learned the valuable lessons of hard work that would serve her throughout her life.
Between 1947 and 1955, Mary gave birth to five children, whose names are (in order of their births) Sherrie Elaine Wilbanks, Johnnie Sue North, Tommy Ray Winn, Juanita Kay Park and Mark Allen Wynn.
In 1960, Mary married her abuser. The relationship was fairly smooth for the first six months and then the violence started. For eight long years, while Mary worked in factories, restaurants and grocery stores to support her five children, the abuse continued. Finally, in 1968, she overcame her fears and was able to break free from her batterer.
Despite the many years of abuse and terrorism, Mary was able to raise all of her children to adulthood. They all now lead productive and peaceful lives. Her youngest child, Mark Wynn, has devoted his life to ending family violence as a police officer, detective, educator, program supervisor, consultant and advisor and was a key creator of the largest police domestic violence investigative unit in the United States.
When domestic violence victims ask about our name, we are given the opportunity to share Mary Parrish’s story and offer them hope and encouragement that they too can rebuild their lives and the lives of their children.
Mary died on April 27, 1998, but her determination, courage, and the gift she had to make everyone she met feel loved and like a member of her family lives on each time someone in need walks through the doors of center that bears her name.