Parrish “Ham” Womble, who served nearly three decades as a Holly Springs town board member and for a year as mayor, died June 24. He was 79.
Holly Springs was a community of a few hundred residents when Womble joined the town Board of Commissioners in 1981. He served for the next 20 years.
In January 2001, the board appointed him as mayor when Gerald Holleman resigned. Womble lost the mayoral election that November, but returned as a board member two years afterward and served until 2011.
Holleman paid tribute to Womble, citing his part in helping lay the foundation for the town of 35,000 that Holly Springs is today.
“He was one of the leaders who got Holly Springs going,” Holleman said Monday. “He came to the council when there wasn’t even indoor plumbing.”
To improve the lives of existing residents while preparing for the thousands to follow, Holleman and the board worked to secure federal grants for utility infrastructure and other improvements.
“I don’t know how many times we went to D.C. in Ham’s van to visit our legislators,” Holleman recalled, maintaining that few recent arrivals can appreciate what it took to get Holly Springs where it is today.
By 1997, Holly Springs was beginning to build a town parks system, almost from scratch. What is now Hunt Recreation Center was then a former school building serving as a Town Hall annex. Across from the Hunt Center were tobacco fields that appeared slated for subdivision expansion. Womble advocated for buying the 46-acre tract for park land instead. What today is Parrish Womble Park has ball fields, tennis courts, synthetic turf soccer and lacrosse fields, a volleyball court, picnic shelter, and more.
Womble also was instrumental in securing land for Holly Ridge Middle and Elementary schools.
The Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce’s annual Distinguished Service Award was named in his honor.
In his professional life, Womble served with the Wake County Sheriff’s Department. He retired with the rank of major in November 1997.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy and adult children. Arrangements are by Trice Funeral Home in Fuquay-Varina.