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Jerold Louis Perry

1936 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Jerold Louis Perry Obituary
September 27, 1936 - December 22, 2016 Our beloved husband, father and grandfather passed away peacefully at home, with loved ones beside him, on December 22, 2016. He was 80 years old. How does one capture the essence of a man in a few short paragraphs? Jerry was brilliant, scrupulously honest, devoted to his family, loyal and considerate to his employees. He was a proud liberal who fought for social justice as an attorney, as a political activist, and as a voter. And he brightened the lives of his family and friends with his marvelous sense of humor. Significantly, throughout his life, Jerry marched to his own drummer. Until his final illness, that drummer played a lovely tune. Jerry was born in Chicago on September 27,1936, to Sidney and Hannah (Dresser) Perry. When Jerry was eight, the family moved to Los Angeles where his father became a switchman for the Southern Pacific Railroad, and for many years also served as shop steward for the local switchman's union. Sidney's experience with the union imbued Jerry with lifelong respect and support for organized labor and influenced his later career decisions. Jerry attended Los Angeles High School where he excelled in journalism and on the school's debate team. Upon graduation, he was awarded a debate scholarship to U.C. Santa Barbara. At the time UCSB had an enrollment of only 1700 students and the benefits of small classes and individualized tutorials. Jerry flourished in this environment, serving as editor of the college paper (the Gaucho) as a freshman and continuing his success as a debater. Following graduation from UCSB, Jerry entered Harvard Law School. Midway through his first year, the class was given a practice exam to prepare them for what lay ahead. Jerry's exam was deemed outstanding and read aloud to the class. Jerry's immediate reaction was to conclude that he was not going to flunk out, so he could relax, avoid the angst depicted in "The Paper Chase," and enjoy the many academic and cultural opportunities available in Cambridge and beyond. He used his spare time to audit classes at the College, and on occasion travel to Manhattan to see Broadway shows, and to New Haven to see previews of Broadway shows. Upon graduation from Harvard in 1961, Jerry returned to California, passed the Bar exam, then returned to UCSB for a year of post-graduate work. In 1962 he applied for an internship with the California State Assembly for the 1962-1963 academic year- a fortuitous move. While interviewing for the internship (which he got) he met his future wife Barbara (then Springer) who was interning during the 1961-1962 academic year. Barbara moved back to Los Angeles at the end of her internship in 1962. Jerry also moved back to Los Angeles at the end of his internship in 1963. He and Barbara met again and began dating. They were married on June 20, 1965. Upon his return to Los Angeles, Jerry went to work in the California Attorney General's office, where he served as one half of the two-man civil rights division set up by then Attorney General Stanley Mosk. In that capacity Jerry worked to enforce the voting rights of Hispanic-American citizens whose rights were being unlawfully infringed in certain parts of the state, and to enforce a recently passed fair housing law that banned racial discrimination by landlords. His legal briefs were described by the office supervisor as "poetry with footnotes." In 1964 Attorney General Mosk was appointed to the California Supreme Court. The following year his successor decided to close the A. G.'s civil rights division and Jerry concluded it was time to move on. He began a career as a workers' compensation lawyer in 1966 and continued in practice until 2012, when health issues forced his retirement. Jerry was deeply devoted to his clients. He empathized with the hardships -physical, emotional and financial - they faced as a result of their work-related injuries, and he was tenacious in securing for them the benefits that comp laws guaranteed. On one occasion he risked his own safety to save a suicidal client, much to Barbara's consternation, but with her admiration. Jerry's integrity earned him both the gratitude of his clients and the respect of the defense bar. In running his practice, Jerry was grateful for the aid and friendship of his long-term administrative assistant Aurora Diaz and his former paralegal Sandy Grajeda whom he urged to go to law school and mentored along the way. His quirkiness asserted itself, however, in his refusal to enter the electronic age, and he ran his practice without benefit of computers, although he did allow Aurora to have some sort of primitive word processor. Jerry and Barbara's marriage was blessed with two wonderful sons, Andy and Josh, two amazing daughters-in-law named Lisa, and two perfect grandchildren, Jonah and Amelia. The family was the focal point of Jerry's life. Jerry had many passions in life that turned him into an inveterate collector and became part of our family life. He loved blues and Cajun and zydeco music which led to an extensive record collection and multiple trips to Cajun country. He loved theater which resulted in a large collection of theater programs and trips to London, New York, Ashland and San Diego to see plays. He loved trying new restaurants and amassed collections of match books and menus. He also liked to inform people that his favorite food group was chocolate, second favorite was barbecue, and third was what he called luxury foods in which he included caviar, truffles and lobster. Most of all, Jerry loved teddy bears. Winnie the Pooh was his favorite literary character and the focal point of his teddy bear collection which burgeoned into a collection of many different bears, plus teddy bear books, artifacts and Christmas tree ornaments; a pilgrimage to the children's library in New York to pay homage to the original Pooh and friends; and a trip to the 100 acre woods in England. Jerry loved to travel and he was the world's greatest trip planner. He and Barbara traveled extensively in the United States, Canada, and Europe, most often with their children, both when they were young and as adults, and ultimately had the joy of traveling with their grandchildren. Of course, every trip was an opportunity for a new bear, or a new book, or new shirts for his T-shirt collection or, heaven forbid, the start of a new collection. Unfortunately the last six years of Jerry's life were blighted with a series of increasingly debilitating illnesses which he fought with courage and determination and his own special weapon: denial. He simply assured himself and everyone around him that he was okay, and it worked for a long time. Ultimately he could not overcome the ravages of colon cancer. We are grateful for his devoted caregivers (Martha, Ronald, Rubin, and nurse Lisa Perry for his final 3 days), and we take solace in the fact that he is no longer suffering, but his loss leaves a gaping hole in our hearts and our lives. Jerry's survivors include Barbara Perry, his wife of 51 years; his beloved sons and daughters-in-law Andrew Walter Perry and Lisa Gaskell, and Joshua Alexander Perry and Lisa Perry; his precious grandchildren Jonah David Perry (courtesy of Josh) and Amelia Rose Perry (courtesy of Andy); his brother-in-law and sister -in-law Steve and Annette Springer, their children (Dina and Daniel Garcia and Allan and Lauren Springer) and grandchildren (Brandon Garcia and Jaden and Hudson Springer). In accordance with Jerry's wishes no funeral is being held. His ashes will be strewn off the coast of Point Lobos in Carmel, a place that Jerry and Barbara discovered on their honeymoon and returned to year after year for mental, physical, and spiritual rejuvenation. Those wishing to honor Jerry's memory might consider a donation to the Point Lobos Foundation, Box 221789, Carmel, CA 93922.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Dec. 28 to Dec. 29, 2016
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