Carl F. Parrish, a prominent criminal defense attorney in Winston-Salem, died Monday after suffering a heart attack, a family member said.

Parrish, 70, died at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said his oldest son, Frank Parrish.

Carl Parrish grew up poor, initially in West Virginia and then in Durham, Frank Parrish said. His father put himself through college, graduating in 1971 from East Carolina University and later through law school at Wake Forest University, his son said.

Frank Parrish said he remembers when his father was accepted to the WFU School of Law.

“We lived on the campus of Wake Forest,” his son said.

Carl Parrish graduated in 1974 with a law degree from Wake Forest, the Winston-Salem Journal reported in January 1978.

Afterward, Parrish worked at several law firms in the city, mostly as a criminal defense attorney.

“He really loved his profession,” Frank Parrish said of his father.

In the mid-1990s, Carl Parrish began appearing on WXII-TV, providing legal advice. He often would answer questions on air that had been posed by viewers.

“It was a way for him to get the message out about the whole legal system,” Frank Parrish said.

Carl Parrish never really understood why the television station chose him to appear on air to provide legal advice, said Mark Randolph of Winston-Salem, Parrish’s law partner for five years.

“He (Parrish) showed up every day thinking of his clients all of the time,” Randolph said. “His whole persona was being a lawyer and doing what he could for his clients.”

Parrish always worked hard for his clients, and was dedicated to them, Randolph said.

During his career, Parrish represented a wide range of criminal defendants and governmental employees who found themselves facing criminal charges or allegations of misconduct. Parrish’s clients included police officers, sheriff’s deputies, city employees and judges.

“Carl was a remarkable attorney and a friend to anyone he met,” said Susan Frye, a friend and the retired Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court. “He never took a vacation. He was scared that someone needed him.

“He ran on that energy of helping people,” Frye said. “We don’t have attorneys like that any more.”

Carl Parrish was a former chairman of the Northwest North Carolina chapter of the American Red Cross.

Carl Parrish also was the former president of the Forsyth County Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers Association, the Journal reported in January 2012. He also served as counsel for the Winston-Salem Police Benevolent Association and provided legal representation to the local Fraternal Order of Police.

His father also enjoyed hunting and fishing, Frank Parrish said.

“He had a deep love for Winston-(Salem), and he wanted to help everybody,” Frank Parrish said of his father. “He will be missed.”

jhinton@wsjournal.com

336-727-7299

@jhintonWSJ

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