By JAYMIE L. WHITE
Special to The Appalachian
STEPHENVILLE – The Philip Parsons Memorial Field had its grand opening in Stephenville on Wednesday evening, Aug. 25.
The project, a collaboration between Emera, the Parsons Family, and the Town of Stephenville, honors Philip Parsons, a lineman who was killed in 2017 during a workplace accident on the Maritime Link Project near Stephenville Crossing.
Philip’s brother, Brett Parsons, said Philip was kind and was never afraid to try new things.
“Philip was definitely a very generous and caring individual; he was the type of person who would really go out of their way to help anyone who needed it. You often hear the phrase ‘someone who would give you the shirt off their back’ and it certainly described Phil. He was a very humble person and certainly someone we felt lived life to the fullest,” said Parsons.
Emera got the ball rolling by contacting Mayor Tom Rose to express interest in contributing to the project for Philip.
“When Emera reached out to me first, they wanted to contribute to a legacy project in our town, and they wanted to honor Mr. Parsons,” said Rose. “I identified three things I felt that our town really needed, and a new baseball diamond was critical from my perspective because it was a sport that was growing, and it was really growing on the female side also.”
Emera donated $100,000 toward the baseball diamond, a project that was completely supported by the Parsons family. Brett Parsons said they were proud to be a part of this project, and they are happy Philip’s friends and family have a place to go to feel closer to him.
“It brings us comfort that we are able to be a part of something that gives back to the community, especially in Philip’s memory and his name. It is a way for his name to live on, which is obviously very special to us as well,” said Parsons. “We are hopeful the field will provide enjoyment to the people of the town for many years to come and it’s also nice to know that Philip’s family and friends will have a place they are able to visit in the months and years ahead that maybe helps them feel closer to him.”
The dedication began with a land acknowledgment and opening prayer by Qalipu First Nation Chief Brendan Mitchell.
“This field is a wonderful place, a field of dreams of sorts,” said Mitchell. “They say ‘build it and they will come.”
He also congratulated the Town of Stephenville on the field opening, and thanked both Mayor Tom Rose, Emera, and everyone involved for supporting such an important project.
Norm Dimmell, president of Emera Newfoundland and Labrador, expressed his honor at being present and his hope that the field will be a way to ‘pay it forward’.
“While, of course, we would all rather be gathered here under different circumstances, we see this day as a celebration,” said Dimmell. “I remember the family asking in lieu of donations to pay it forward in Philip’s name. I, and our team, have not stopped doing that since that day, and I like to think that this field carrying Philips’s name means he will continue to do just that for the community.”
Brett Parsons also spoke at the dedication and thanked Emera, the Town of Stephenville, and everyone who came to the opening. He said there were two main reasons he and his family were behind the project.
“We were very supportive of it from the beginning for two reasons,” said Parsons. “The first obviously is it’s a way for Philip’s name to live on for many years to come, but the second, and perhaps most important reason, was it really gave us a chance to give something back to the community that had given us so much.”
Mayor Tom Rose concluded the remarks by underscoring how important this field will be to the town.
“We believe that this facility will play a critical role in the physical and mental health of our residents throughout the Bay St. George region,” said Rose.
The evening ended with Brett and his mother, Sis Parsons, cutting the ceremonial ribbon, followed by various games for the children, after which the new field was christened with its first ball game, played by numerous members of the community.
Overall Mayor Rose considered the evening a success for the Town and everyone involved.
“It was beautiful. It went so well,” said Rose. “Our scoreboard never came in in time, but it really went well.”