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PERILLO, JAMES EDWARD James Edward Perillo, 71, devoted husband, loving father, joyful Papa, and loyal friend died on Aug. 18, 2014 in his home in New Haven. He was surrounded by the compassion, humor and comfort of his family. He was the beloved husband of Eileen McCarthy Perillo. Born in New Haven on May 31, 1943, he was the son of the late Dominick and Martha Cusano Perillo. Jim graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a degree in mathematics. He also received a Master’s Degree from New York University. Jim began his career as a teacher of mathematics and a Guidance Counselor at West Haven High School. It was here he met his wife, Eileen. The newlywed couple’s romance blossomed as they enjoyed four years of teaching together and chaperoning numerous high school proms. During his seventeen -year tenure at West Haven High School, he channeled his love of basketball and athletic prowess, as the Boy’s Varsity Basketball Coach, which he coached for 8 seasons. In 1978 Jim was appointed as a Commissioner to the New Haven Coliseum Authority, which led to his position as Executive Director of the New Haven Coliseum, a position he held for seventeen years. This allowed Jim’s children to explore a backyard filled with ice skating, elephants and a memorable Billy Joel concert, which occurred during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Fueled by his genuine devotion to education and his students, Jim returned to teaching in 2000. Jim was an inspirational and effective classroom teacher. The final ten years of his career were spent teaching mathematics at Guilford High School, where he retired in 2010. The love for his family and friends was not outdone by his allegiance to his city, the Elm City. It was this allegiance that led Jim to politics. He served three terms as a Democratic Alderman to the Seventh Ward “The Hill”, where he held the position of Majority Leader. In 1989 he entered the primary for Mayor, where his candid and sincere demeanor earned him the name “Gentleman Jim.” His tactics of thoughtfulness and decency gained him much support as a serious mayoral candidate. Jim’s appointment to the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven in 2007 was the culmination of his love for his community and for education. He served as the Chairman of the Education Committee and Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors. Despite his recent battle with cancer, he soldiered on by bringing his iPad and sense of humor to treatments, and maintained his passion for the mission of the Foundation. A well balanced life is not defined by the jobs and responsibilities you hold, but by the things that make you happy. For Jim, it was the simple things in life that made him happiest. Whether it was enjoying the World Cup while sampling craft beers with his daughter, or cheering on the New York Yankees and New York Giants while enjoying a Miller Lite with his two sons, this was further evidence of his sense of humor and perspective on life. You could also find Jim, especially since his retirement, in his garage finishing his latest woodworking project, be it a table, a hutch, or a cradle for his five granddaughters. Besides his wife of 45 years, Jim is survived by two sons, Chris and wife Sarah, of Simsbury, Darren and wife Emily, of Guilford, and daughter Beth of Brooklyn, New York. He is also survived by his brother Frank and wife Martha of Stratford, and one sister Josephine (Jay) and husband Robert Reilly of North Haven. Proud Papa to five, beautiful girls: Parker Eileen, Cameron Anne, Shay Elizabeth, Sawyer Eliza, and Quinn Alice. They will miss him reading books, pushing them on the swings, and cheering, “Oooooohhhh Baby!” Jim also leaves behind many in-laws, nieces, nephews, family and friends, too numerous to list but not forgotten. Friends may call at The Celentano Funeral Home, 424 Elm St. (cor. Dwight) New Haven Wednesday from 4 to 8 pm and are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Aedan’s Church, 112 Fountain St., New Haven Thursday morning at 10:00. Interment will follow in St. Lawrence Cemetery. In lieu of flowers donations may be sent to the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, 70 Audubon St., New Haven, CT. 06510 to continue Jim’s commitment to education and scholarships. To leave messages of condolence, please visit www.celentanofuneralhome.com
Published in The New Haven Register on Aug. 19, 2014
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