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Henry Cass Parham

Word War II veteran

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POSTED May 20, 2009 2:05 a.m.
Henry Cass Parham died on May 16, 2009 in Camarillo, California, but the real story began in a farmhouse just outside Mt. Sylvan, Texas, on March 22, 1918.  

He was born the third son of 13 children to Thomas and Ida Pearl Parham.  His father was born in 1880 and spent his life farming in Smith County, Texas’s red dirt.  Henry learned to read by the light of a coal oil lantern, picked cotton for spending money, and heard Franklin Roosevelt’s radio fireside chats give hope to a country in need of hope.  Born a few months prior to the Armistice of World War I, he talked about living long enough to see atomic weapons, space travel, Hubble pictures of the universe, the identification of the human genome, World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, the invasion of Kuwait and George Herbert Walker Bush’s response, and even Iraq II by Bush the younger.  But probably the biggest moment of the rest of his life occurred when he married Ruby Ethel Daniel an Apache Belle out of Tyler Junior College and loved her until he died.

 He and Ethel raised two sons, Jackson Eugene and Ronald Ray.  Jackson is an attorney living in Camarillo, California, and Ronald a computer software company owner who resides in Villa Park, California.  Both of his sons and their children survive him.  Ronald’s children and grandchildren include Brett Parham who resides in Manteca with his sons Justin and Jarrod, Brett’s daughter Danielle.  

 Jackson’s children include Cassie Lynn Cunningham (HC’s namesake), Blake Jeffus Parham, and Kristin Parham Daw.  Jackson’s first granddaughter Brody Daw had her second birthday on May 2 of this year.  H.C. kept her picture by his bed and had pictures of all of his children, grandchildren, and great -randchildren in his Camarillo apartment.  H.C. also leaves behind Connie Wellmaker, his 94-year-old sister who still resides in Texas and the many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of his brothers and sisters.  

 He was a hero soldier in World War II.  His military occupational specialty was listed as rifleman, and his rank Staff Sergeant.  He served in Company B of the 68th Armored Infantry Battalion and fought his way into Germany through the Ardennes Forest.  He described trying to take a town controlled by the Germans and watching the soldiers he trained die.  He sought cover behind a skinny tree where when he moved the German sniper shot him on both sides.  He lost his platoon that day and survived five German bullets.  After more than a year in military hospitals including one in Belgium, he came home to Manteca.  He earned the American Theater Ribbon, the European-African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon and was awarded two Bronze Service Stars, a Victory Medal, a Good Conduct Medal, and a Purple Heart.

After the war, he went to work for Pacific Gas & Electric in Manteca as a meter reader, and retired from PG&E thirty years later.  The First Baptist Church became part of his extended family.  He met his lifelong friends there who would describe him as a gentle, Christian man who never denied anyone help, who loved home, loved Manteca, and loved his family.  He loved to eat.  He loved pie and ice cream.  Whenever anyone asked him what kind of pie that he liked, he said, “Pie.”

His memorial service will be held at the First Baptist Church on North Street at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 22.
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Wednesday,  May 20, 2009
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