Paul Perry, 11, of Belleville, Ill., died Friday, May 21, 2004, after a courageous, six-year battle with neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. Paul passed peacefully at home, cradled in his mother's arms, surrounded by his family, dear friends and beloved principal and teachers.
Paul was born Sept. 10, 1992, in St. Louis, Mo., and was a fifth-grade student at Douglas School in Belleville District 118. An honors student, Paul was a member of the fifth-grade basketball team and had been involved in the gifted student program for several years.
He was an avid skateboarder who enjoyed daredevil stunts, bike riding, roller-blading, video games and his special little Dachshund doggies, Billy Boy and Mini Missy Perry. He was blessed with many loyal and devoted friends who stood by him throughout his illness.
Paul was diagnosed with neuroblastoma three weeks after his sixth birthday in September 1998. He went through six months of intense chemotherapy at St. Louis Children's Hospital, two stem cell transplants, radiation treatment and an oral drug program. Paul was in remission for two-and-a-half years and relapsed in November 2001. He endured two more years of chemotherapy, followed by two months in a trial drug study. He was referred to the BJC Wings Hospice program in January 2004, after it was determined that medical treatment was no longer effective.
Paul was proud to be named an honorary firefighter with the Northwest St. Clair County Fire Protection District and an honorary pilot with the 375th Operations Support Squadron at Scott Air Force Base, both in March 2004.
He is survived by his mother, Claudia Perry, and his 12-year-old brother, Johnny Perry, both of Belleville, Ill.; his father, Sam Currie of Maplewood, N.J.; his maternal grandparents, John and Clara Perry of Belleville, Ill.; his maternal aunt, Ann (Glen) Stevens of Portland, Tenn.; his maternal uncle, David (Ellie) Perry of Chesterfield, Mo.; and eight maternal cousins, Melanie (Joe) Sain of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and their children, Andrew and Alicia Sain; Julie Wilson of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Kristen and Michael Perry of Eureka, Mo., and Justin and Amanda Perry of Chesterfield, Mo. On his father's side, he is survived by five aunts, Jessie (Phillip) Dabney of Erie, Pa., and Vanessa Currie, Sandra Currie, Kym McBride and Stacie McBride, all of Buffalo, N.Y.; an uncle, Robert (Melinda) McBride of Buffalo, N.Y.; two great-aunts and a great-uncle, Marry Battles, Littie Mae Harris and Lavone (Marie) Currie, all of Buffalo, N.Y.; and 22 first cousins and 23 second cousins in the Buffalo, N.Y., area.
Paul and Johnny were fortunate to attend an annual summer camp sponsored by HIS KIDS, for kids with cancer and their siblings. HIS KIDS is a non-profit organization which hosts the camp and other trips and activities for families of children with cancer. Paul's family would be honored for memorials to be made in Paul's name to HIS KIDS at P.O. Box 412, Highland, Ill., 62249. Phone: 618-654-4020.
Visitation: Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 25, 2004, and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, 2004, at Pete Gaerdner Funeral Home, Belleville, Ill., The Northwest St. Clair Fire Protection District will do a walk-through at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 25, at the funeral home.
Funeral: Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 26, 2004, at Pete Gaerdner Funeral Home, Belleville, Ill. A balloon launch and burial will follow at Lake View Memorial Gardens, Fairview Heights, Ill.
PETE GAERDNER FUNERAL HOME, Belleville, Ill.
Published in Belleville News-Democrat from May 24 to May 25, 2004