DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - An eerie silence plagues 'Rip' Hughes stadium. The gate is locked, the bleachers are bare, and the field stands without the man who dedicated years to the game.
Just a day before, medics rushed James Parrish,65, off the field. He collapsed during the early parts of Dothan's season opener. He died later at a hospital.
Mark Culver, Parrish's friend, remembers a great guy.
"We used to drink coffee together and fight among Auburn and Alabama and Republicans and Democrats and everything else. It's a sad loss for our community," he said.
Other residents, like Ray Sizemore, saw the man off the field. Parrish would frequent Ray's Restaurant nearly every day.
"...unless he was out of town. He was one at the knowledge table. What we call the knowledge table," Sizemore said.
Parrish possessed plenty of knowledge off the field, heading up the Board of Trustees for the Wiregrass Electric Cooperative.
His time on the gridiron, however, provided players, fans, and fellow officials with guidance--and a love for the game.
"He could officiate with a referee for one game and tell if he was a good guy or not, and he was my inspiration to move to referee," said Jackie Battles, Parrish's friend.
It's a quality 'Rip' Hewes stadium and the rest of the Circle City will forever miss.
"We depended on him every week to be out there. And it's like losing a comrade or a brother. He was a very faithful official," Battles said.
Parrish's funeral will take place Sunday at 4:00PM at Bluff Springs Baptist Church.