Rish remembered for quiet but strong presence

Prominent community member Carol Rish passed away peacefully at the age of 86 Sunday, July 17.

Rish is remembered for her love of the community, her quiet but strong nature and her notable contributions to several of the Gulf County’s most impactful organizations.

“She was a very charitable person,” said Jay Rish, her son. “She very quietly, along with my father, was an advocate for many of the community’s organizations.”

Rish first moved to Beacon Hill when she was a teenager and never moved away. She attended Port St. Joe High School, where she met her husband of 50 years, William J. “Billy Joe” Rish, a former Florida state representative, Port St. Joe city attorney and Gulf County attorney who preceded her in death.

“When you talk about my mother, a lot of the time you end up talking about my mother and my father,” Jay Rish said. “They were devoted to each other and together, they were quite the pillars of the community,”

Carol Rish was a lifelong member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a den leader in the Cub Scouts and an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Port St. She was heavily involved in the formation of the Care Closet initiative, a ministry and outreach program established to help provide clothing to those in need following the closing of the paper mill.

She was also a strong advocate for the William J. Rish State Park, the state’s only fully accessible park for those with disabilities, which was named in honor of her husband.

Ralph Roberson, a friend and former collegue of Rish’s, said that she was “a great Southern lady… She was shy by nature, but she had a strong will, and in her quiet way, she could be quite influential.”

“She had a great sense of humor, and she was fun to work with and be around, and I know myself and the rest of the community will miss her greatly.”

A memorial was held in her honor on July 20.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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