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Family, friends honor fallen flight nurse

Parry remembered as loving, energetic and funniest friend

Courtney Parry, who was one of three crew members that died in a Hawaii Life Flight plane crash on Dec. 15 off of Kaupo, was honored during a Celebration of Life event on Sunday afternoon at Kamaole Beach Park III. The Maui News / DAKOTA GROSSMAN photos

KIHEI — Courtney Parry was much more than a flight nurse who always put her patients first. She was also a hilarious, loving, energetic, and selfless friend, single mom of three, sister and co-worker, which loved ones recalled Sunday morning at a Celebration of Life event at Kamaole Beach Park III. 

Parry was one of three crew members that died in a Hawaii Life Flight plane crash on Dec. 15 off of Kaupo. 

One of Parry’s friends that helped organize the memorial was Aleesi Marie O’Donnell, who wanted to give her the recognition she deserved and to share with the world “how amazing Courtney was as a mother, as a sister, as a genuine friend, and a co-worker.”

“Losing someone you love is like losing a part of yourself. You miss them and you miss who you were with them. Nothing will ever replace that,” O’Donnell said while standing in front of a tent full of family members, friends and co-workers. “She’s amazing. She saved lives, she risked her own life to save others and I just want her to be honored today.”

The service, which was also being streamed on Facebook Live, started with a traditional Hawaiian blessing followed by a flower drop and prayer down at the beach. There was also soft live music, potluck, and time for folks to share special stories about Parry, who was very often described as a “positive light” and “the life of the party.”

Photos of flight nurse Courtney Parry and her friends and family were on display at a Celebration of Life event on Sunday. During the service, folks shared how Parry could always bring joy into any room with her humor, generosity and love.

Posters with photos filled with Parry and her loved ones were also on display at the service and “forget me not seeds” were given out so that people could take them home and plant as a way to carry Parry’s legacy on. There was also a cross for Parry set up where attendees could place lei. 

In the afternoon, notes of “comfort and courage” written by those who could not attend the event were read to the family, including Parry’s sons; daughter, Sydney Parry; and her older brother Matt Parry, who were all in attendance. 

Others shared in person how Courtney Parry could always bring joy into any room. She will be remembered as a “loving and caring” person and the “funniest friend.”

Tears were shed, but many smiled and laughed as they recalled the “firecracker” that she was. 

Parry’s friend Portia Johnson said “we will love her forever and more than words can express.” 

Loved ones comfort each other at the shoreline during a traditional Hawaiian blessing and flower drop for the late Courtney Parry.

“She always made everyone laugh and smile,” Johnson said. “She provided a really, really vital and necessary service.”

When nurse Jenn Rose first met Parry, she found her to be the “coolest and funniest” person of the group and it felt like “instant friendship.” 

Whether it was making plans for “Sunday funday,” sharing stories, dining out or going camping, Rose said that Parry had a genuine personality and sense of adventure. 

“One month ago today, the world lost a wonderful, selfless human being,” she added. 

Dana Smallwood Grubs met Parry over a year ago and was immediately drawn to her easy going, down-to-earth persona. 

“Not only was she a great nurse, but she was an exceptional friend,” Grubs said. “From the short time I’ve known her, I experienced first hand that she was loyal, had a great sense of humor and was very generous.” 

Nearly a month after the fatal plane crash, the National Transportation Safety Board said that the Raytheon Aircraft Co. (formerly Beech) C90A, twin-engine, turbine-powered airplane was located and retrieved on Tuesday and transported to a secure location in Hawaii for further examination. The investigation into the crash is expected to be completed in 12 to 24 months, the NTSB said. 

The other victims were pilot Brian Treptow and flight paramedic Gabriel Camacho. The Hawaii Life Flight medical transport plane was traveling from Kahului Airport to Waimea on Hawaii island to pick up a patient when it crashed in the waters near East Maui. 

Megan Cunningham said that they had the celebration of life service scheduled before the aircraft was found last week. She said there were a lot of tears while planning the service, but also smiles because she knew Parry would be happy with what her friends organized. 

Some Hawaii Life Flight crew members attended the service on Sunday, with a few sharing how Parry was a “tremendous partner” and nurse to fly with. Others said that her energy was contagious. 

To the crowd, Capt. Matt Scott said that Parry was “one of my favorite people” and taught him how to let problems “roll off your back.” 

“Nothing can replace her,” Scott said. “I just miss her and will always miss her.” 

Parry’s family members declined to be interviewed for this story. 

Other memorial services are being held nationwide for Parry, with another scheduled for Nebraska. 

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

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