Hundreds Gather, Grieve as Correctional Brother Joe Parise Laid to Rest


Hundreds of correctional officers, peace officers and veterans gathered Tuesday at Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel to pay final tribute to our fallen union brother, Joseph Parise, and to give support to his family. Parise was an officer at the Oak Park Heights prison and a member of AFSCME Local 915. He died while on duty in late September, just minutes after intervening when a coworker at the prison was under attack by an inmate. Parise leaves behind his wife, Andrea, who is pregnant with their second child, and their daughter Lucy.

Hundreds of correctional and peace officers line the entrance to the Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel
IB Image

Parise, a Navy veteran and active Honor Guard member, was known his sense of humor; his genuine love and concern for his family and coworkers; and for his willingness to take on tough jobs. He’d been planning to ask for a transfer to the Stillwater prison, where Officer Joe Gomm was murdered by an inmate in July. Parise said he wanted the transfer so he could help improve safety at Stillwater.

Parise’s coworkers from Oak Park Heights carried blue roses and packed the front rows of the chapel during funeral services.

“Joe was a man of tremendous integrity,” said prison chaplain Rev. Martin Shanahan, who led Parise’s funeral service. “Joe gave up his life as a hero. He was doing what he loved to do, and that was helping others. He died like every hero who has ever died: doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways.”

Parise’s close friend and former coworker James Carter delivered the eulogy, emphasizing Parise’s loyalty and dedication to keeping his coworkers safe. “Watching over your partners, having their six, ensuring that everyone goes home safely at the end of the day: that was the code that Joe both lived and died by,” Carter said.

Coworkers Scott Roemer, Don Webber and Robert Harder offered remembrances, reflecting on Parise’s commitment to the job. “He made his mark one person at a time. He died bringing safety to others. He’s a symbol of heroism,” said Roemer, a fellow member of AFSCME Local 915.

IB Image

Bagpipes played and officers lined the street, standing at attention, to meet Parise’s funeral procession at Fairview Cemetery in Stillwater. An American flag - suspended by fire truck ladders - waved against a gray sky above the blocks-long stream of mourners.

Following the deaths of Parise and Gomm, AFSCME Council 5 correctional leaders are stepping up demands for increased staffing and safety improvements at DOC facilities after years of denials from the Minnesota Legislature. “We’re not going to rest until we make sure our correctional facilities are safe and secure for our members and the public,” said AFSCME Council 5 associate director Tim Henderson.