IONIA, Mich. (May 6, 2014) — There’s not many of us that will make it to 100, but perhaps if we do we can attribute it to volunteering and helping others. That’s the motto to live by that Gerard Perry has had all of his life.
Gerry just turned 100 in April and has lived in Ionia most of his life. An industrial engineer by trade, it’s hard to imagine someone still with us who was around just two years after the Titanic sank in 1912. Gerry has been in boy scouts since 1926 and has volunteered many times for everything from A to Z.
“Volunteering! That was real simple. Keep busy. Don’t sit around and twiddle your thumbs. Too many people die young that way” says Gerry. He’s been involved with the Ionia County Historical Society, the Ionia Theatre, Bertha Brock Park, Boy Scouts, the local church, and has been recognized by former Governor Jennifer Granholm as one of the top volunteers in the state. In fact, he was honored as one of the top two volunteers in Michigan!
To many, Perry is known as the train driver during the annual fall festival. He also ran the Knights of Columbus annual Easter egg hunt for the past 31 years filling more than 1,200 eggs each year for the occasion. One of the groups Gerry dedicated much of his time and talents to were the Boy Scouts. Under his mentoring, more than 100 boys were able to obtain an Eagle Scout honor. He also served on the Scout Honor Guard for former President Gerald Ford’s funeral.
The city of Ionia has recognized the contributions of Gerry Perry over the last century by naming a park after him. Perry Park was recently dedicated in 2013. “He has been a big part of the community, of the church, of the boy scouts. He’s someone who has made a difference in Ionia and we’re proud to name a park after him” says Mayor Dan Balice.
While Gerard Perry may have accomplished many things in his life, he hasn’t quite embraced technology so there is no Facebook page and you can’t follow him on Twitter. He jokes that he receives phone calls from time to time from people wanting to fix his computer. According to Gerry “I don’t have a computer for you to fix.”
Click here for the city website and more information on Perry Park. Gerry has outlived two wives and two children and has only one regret. While he’s traveled to Hawaii, Central America, and six times to Alaska, he always wanted to see Australia but hasn’t done it yet.
The world needs more Gerard Perrys! “Yeah…the thing that is remarkable is not only that he’s made it to 100, but he is still sharp as a tack. And he is still volunteering, he’s still helping, he’s still a productive member of the community and that’s what really makes him special,” says Mayor Balice. And for that…we salute Gerard Perry of Ionia. Many more birthdays to come!