The Daily Evergreen

WSU custodial director to retire after 33 years

Custodial+Director+Tom+Parrish%2C+who+a+colleague+referred+to+as+%E2%80%9Cvery+ambitious%2C+kind+of+scary+ambitious.%E2%80%9D
Custodial Director Tom Parrish, who a colleague referred to as “very ambitious, kind of scary ambitious.”

Custodial Director Tom Parrish, who a colleague referred to as “very ambitious, kind of scary ambitious.”

Custodial Director Tom Parrish, who a colleague referred to as “very ambitious, kind of scary ambitious.”

TYLER WATSON | Evergreen reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






After 33 years of working for WSU, 17 of which were spent supervising more than 100 employees, the current WSU custodial director will retire next month.

In what he called the highlight of his career, Tom Parrish received the President’s Employee Excellence Award on March 31. He said it was “unreal” just to have been nominated, and he was shocked when he won.

“It’s just a fun place to work and great communicating with the people on a regular basis,” Parrish said. “WSU just has that community feel to it.”

Parrish, the youngest of five children, was born in Palouse, about a 15-minute drive from WSU. He studied business administration at WSU from 1980 to 1983, before going on to finish his studies at Eastern Washington University. During the summers, Parrish worked construction, a hobby he said he continues on and off to this day.

After graduation, Parrish said he wanted to stay on the Palouse. He took a job as a custodian at WSU on Nov. 24, 1984, for which he was assigned to clean the Todd Hall building and premises. By 1987, Parrish established himself as the lead custodian.

He eventually became assistant manager in 1992 under Carl Ketchie, the custodial director at the time. Parrish took over in 2000 when Ketchie retired, and he has held the position ever since.

Parrish said his favorite part of the job was the people he was able to meet and interact with. Under his leadership, 405 people were hired, all of whom he said he tried to get to know. He said he likes to help his employees through tough times.

“It’s just a really good workforce,” Parrish said.

WSU has close to the same number of custodial staff members it had in the 1990s, about 127, Parrish said. While the number hasn’t changed, he said, the size of the campus has increased, so it has become a much more efficient program with one custodian covering more ground than before.

Parrish said a good custodian is someone who is self-motivated and has a sense of self-responsibility. Unlike many jobs with supervisors, he said there is no one to look over their shoulder to see if they are doing the job as intended.

“You have an atmosphere that is kind of unique,” Parrish said. “It’s self-directed work.”

Rebecca Beach, a current custodial supervisor who has worked in the custodial department and known Parrish since 1987, said this was never a problem for Parrish. She described her impression of him when they met for the first time.

“Very ambitious, kind of scary ambitious,” Beach said. “He wanted to do his job and do it well.”

Parrish said in his free time, he enjoys gardening, hiking, painting and fishing for kokanee in the Dworshak reservoir in Idaho. He also is currently in the process of remodeling his house himself.

Victor Linderman, another of Parrish’s coworkers, said these hobbies never got in the way of his work.

“He was a square guy,” Linderman said. “Dependable. Trustworthy. Accumulative. Every day, [he] did his job.”

Once his retirement becomes official, Parrish said he plans to hike glacier areas and visit national parks in Utah, places he has yet to experience firsthand.

Linderman said Parrish is very good at balancing the budget and procuring funds for needed equipment. He said whenever a custodial staff member asks about equipment issues, Parrish is always there to hear their concerns and take care of the problem.

“Without that ability, we would flounder,” Linderman said.

Parrish said none of his success would be possible without the men and women in the custodial department who wake up every morning at 4 a.m. or work graveyard through the night.

“[Since I got here in 1984], WSU has expanded and has become a lot more diverse,” Parrish said. “It’s been a really enjoyable place to work. It’s nice to try to help the departments have their missions be successful.”

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • WSU custodial director to retire after 33 years

    Features

    Women*s Center holds open house for students of all genders, identities

  • WSU custodial director to retire after 33 years

    Arts

    New art exhibit highlights selfishness

  • WSU custodial director to retire after 33 years

    Administration

    ‘Being a female voice in a room is very important’

  • WSU custodial director to retire after 33 years

    Features

    ‘The true volunteer of the Fourth’

  • WSU custodial director to retire after 33 years

    Features

    Cycling across country to change lives

  • WSU custodial director to retire after 33 years

    Community

    Club creates track for youth to stay safe

  • WSU custodial director to retire after 33 years

    Faculty

    James Short Jr. leaves behind research legacy

  • WSU custodial director to retire after 33 years

    Commencement

    Student activist reflects on impact at WSU

  • WSU custodial director to retire after 33 years

    Features

    Long-time coroner retires

  • WSU custodial director to retire after 33 years

    Features

    First-generation student credits involvement in success

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






No P.R. No B.S. No Retreat. Watchdogs since 1895
WSU custodial director to retire after 33 years