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Rocky Mount mourns death of former councilman

Posted May 22, 2010

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— Many in Rocky Mount are mourning the death of a former city councilman who was known as a community leader and education advocate.

John H. Perry died Monday at the Nash Health Care System after a brief period of declining health. He was 80 years old.

"He was a champion for justice and a strong advocate for social change for the citizens of Rocky Mount," said Deborah J. Battle, first lady at East End Missionary Baptist Church, of which Perry was an active member.

U.S. Congresman G.K. Butterfield, Rep. Angela Bryant and former Rocky Mount Mayor Fred Turnage were to speak at Perry's funeral at noon Saturday at New Morning Star Church of Christ.

Perry served as a city councilman from 1993 to 1997, took a leadership role in the Booker T. Washington Alumni Association and served in outreach and youth ministry programs through his church. Additionally, Perry served on numerous county boards, as a boy scout leader and in local chapters of the NAACP and American Legion.

"He was always motivating and encouraging others, especially the broken-hearted and the downtrodden. Mr. Perry shared wisdom with young people to assist them in developing a mindset to raise their standards of living," Battle said in a statement Saturday.

Perry was born to the late Joe Perry and Lee Etta Winstead-Perry in Rocky Mount. He attended public schools and graduated from the historic Booker T. Washington High School. He served two years in the U.S. Army in the Korean War. He went onto Robert Technical Trade School in New York and worked for the New York City Transit Authority for 25 years.

After his retirement, he and his wife, Mary Shaw-Perry, moved to Rocky Mount. There, Battle said, they "served as a team."

"They labored untiringly with community organizations to make Rocky Mount a better and safer place to live," she said.

Perry is survived by Shaw-Perry, with whom he had been married for 59 years; three children; five siblings; 11 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren and three god-children.

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