It’s been about five weeks since Tim Parry put out a call for happy birthday video tributes to his dad, Ray—a New Canaan High School science teacher from 1959 to 1990 (and for stretches assistant football coach, equipment manager and head of ticket operations) who’s grown increasingly isolated these past four years after losing a child, grandchild and wife.
What came back (full video below) were 27 tributes from former students and colleagues—some funny, some touching, and at least one highly revealing.
In her video, fellow New Canaan High School 1987 grad Emily Jordhamo—daughter of retired NCHS teacher Tony Jordhamo—recalls that Ray let her use his own son (Tim’s) car to pass her driver’s test way back when.
“I never knew that this happened, and as god is my witness, that is probably the closest I have ever come to having a girl in my car when I was in high school,” Parry told NewCanaanite.com.
Here’s the video, story continues below:
Videos include clips from Rams head football coach Lou Marinelli, New Canaan fixture Mark “2-5-0” Rearick, and students from the 1960s through the ‘80s.
Tim said watching his father experience the videos was a joy, as he continually yelled at the screen.
In hearing one touching memory from NCHS grad Chris Borkin (must-see, check out the video) about how Ray had reserved—against his own principles—lacrosse jersey number 44 for the teen, Tim said that it was as though his dad was back in the high school classroom with Borkin himself.
“He starts going, ‘What do you mean? Not in my class, you didn’t learn anything in my class! You never did know when to shut up.’ ”
On a serious note, Tim told us he believes the video did sink in with his dad.
“There was no huge burst of excitement—my dad is hard of hearing and he had to lean in—but you could tell at the same time that he was overwhelmed by the magnitude of it, 27 people,” Tim said.
Other favorite clips for Tim include a memory from Rob Ryder of meeting his future wife in Mr. Parry’s biology class, and Tim credited the high school’s Priscilla Schulz with going around to get some of the video tributes (including Marinelli and Rearick).
“Fiver had actually emailed me earlier last week and said something about how he was not sure he would be able to do a video, but wanted to reach out and wish my dad a happy birthday, so it was pretty funny when all of the sudden Priscilla sends over the video,” Tim said.
One familiar face in the video to New Canaanites will be longtime, retired NCHS Assistant Principal Gary Field, who had grown up in Norwalk and attended Western Connecticut State University (at the time, Danbury State Teachers College) for his undergraduate and master’s degree. Field credits Ray Parry with changing his life through getting him to New Canaan High School, and as Tim recalls that process, everyone else in the room wanted someone to come in as a teacher from a more prestigious school, except Ray.
Tim said: “Dad was the only one who supported him [Field] and argued to bring him in. He said, ‘It’s not about what school you went to, but how you can teach and I know you can teach.’ By time we were at the high school there was the legend of Gary Field, the assistant principal who did a lot of great things.”
Ray Parry turned 85 on April 12. Those on hand for the video’s unveiling included not just Tim but also his son and wife, and brother Kevin and his wife with their two boys.
Ray received a Kindle Fire for his birthday, and is now set up with an email address. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. (“Which is great, because of course nobody would scam an old guy, like his cousin from Ethiopia,” Tim reflected.)