Alfred L. Perry passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family on September 24th at Lahey Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts.
Al was born on February 26, 1928 in Somerville Massachusetts, one of three children of Manuel and Tiolinda Perry. Al graduated from Somerville High School in 1946. Two years after graduating from high school, he met the love of his life, Jean Gillespie. Al married Jean in 1951 and their love endured for 71 years. Their relationship was one of the true love stories in our era as they were inseparable and totally in love. Together they raised their six children, the early years in Somerville and then in Reading where they built a life and home based on faith, family, and love. The family grew to include 16 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren.
Growing up in Somerville, Al loved his life there. He felt tremendous pride for the city that enriched him through his education, his faith and his family. He would happily share that he was “from Somerville” even after spending the last 65 years in Reading. During Al’s years in high school, he excelled both in and out of the classroom. He was an excellent student, achieved National Honor Society, was President of his class for three years and was a beloved classmate. Al was well known for his basketball talent and played with an energy and spirit that propelled these efforts to win several Tech tournaments. He captained his team and was a consummate teammate and honored leader.
Al went on to college at Tufts University on a full scholarship where his academic and athletic success continued. He became captain of his basketball team and after having achieved honors in both the classroom and on the court, Al graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and was later inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. During his Tufts’ years, Al entered the Marine Corps Reserve Training Program and spent his summers training in Quantico, Virginia.
Upon graduation, Al went on to teach math at the Northeastern Junior High School in Somerville. After one year, Al left to fulfill his obligation to his country and entered active military duty in 1951. He was sent to Korea where his leadership continued as he became a platoon leader in the 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division of the Fleet Marine Force. After a year in Korea, he returned to become executive officer at the Marine Barracks in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. He would eventually be honorably discharged from the service in 1953 with the rank of Captain.
After leaving the service, Al would go back to the classroom to teach in Somerville, and eventually on to teach math at Burlington High School. Within four years, he became head of the math department and then was named acting Vice Principal in 1970 and later appointed Principal in 1975, a position he held until his retirement in 1985.
Throughout his entire tenure at both Somerville and Burlington School system, his relationship with the student body was always professional and collegial. It became commonplace to see him in the corridors and the entire student body respected Mr. Perry immensely. He was a mentor to so many and remembered as a true gentleman.
For all his successes, his greatest legacy is that of a private one. Just before Al was sent to Korea, he married his high school sweetheart, the lovely Jean Gillespie. Together they had six children, Alfred, Michael, Kathy, Nancy, David and Suzanne. They built a life for their children that centered around family and the home they lived in at 10 Spring Street in Reading for the last 65 years. Al would work up to three jobs at any time to support his family. In addition to his years as an educator, Al was also a recognized college basketball official who was in demand from all over New England for over 30 years. His solid work ethic was a hallmark of his entire life and one he passed on to each of his children. Ever humble, Al did whatever he had to do to provide for his family.
Family meant everything to Al. He was a devoted and loving husband, and the most wonderful father a child could ever have. His pride, care and love for his children was made abundantly clear through his daily phone calls, his unending support, through his appreciation for any gesture great or small, his bear hugs, his sweet wave and loving kisses. Al further extended his boundless love unconditionally to his grandchildren and great grandchildren, fondly known as “Grampy.” From Christmas Eve celebrations to birthday parties, which included the Perry signature singing of “Happy Birthday,” game nights, times at the pool, family sporting events, Friday night dinners, and regular coffee gatherings after church on Sundays, Al enjoyed each of these events. He was always up for fun and was the center of his family’s life. Al had a way of making everyone feel special and loved.
Al’s love of family included the special relationship he had with his brothers, Walter and Ronnie. They were truly his best friends and kept close contact throughout their lives. “Uncle Al” loved and enjoyed his large, extended family. He was an important influence and had a major impact on the lives of his nieces and nephews.
Over the years, Al was a devoted friend to so many from his Somerville roots into his Reading community which he embraced. He was an avid golfer and board member at Meadow Brook Golf Club where he served as secretary for over 15 years. In the later years, he always looked forward to his 10 am tee time with the “Golden Boys.” Al had a passion for storytelling, jokes and loved to have a laugh. He cherished many life-long friendships and enjoyed any opportunity to connect.
Faith was a constant in Al’s life. He attended daily mass with Jean and continued this devoutness after her passing as well. He was a devoted Catholic and active participant at mass at Saint Athanasius Parish where he also served as an usher.
Al is predeceased by his wife, Jean and survived by his six children, Alfred M. Perry and his late wife Lynda of North Andover; Michael C. Perry and his wife Mary Kay of Boise, Idaho; Kathleen Zager and her husband Greg of Methuen; Nancy Stark and her husband Bob of Wilmington; David W. Perry of Reading; Suzanne Algeri, and her husband Steve of Reading. In addition, he is predeceased by his brother, Walter and survived by his brother, Ronnie.
Al has sixteen grandchildren, Darryl, Bryan, Kristyn, Marc, Allyson, Anthony and Tia Perry, Joy and Matthew Perry; Katie Lynch, Erin Zager and Greg Zager, who predeceased his grandfather; Jason and Jon Stark; Nicole and Michael Algeri.
Additionally, Al has twenty-one great grandchildren including Brayden, Haylie, Lucas, Reese, Brianne, Celia, Logan, Cameron, Riley, Cooper and Harper Perry; Cydney and Brandon Rice; Brooke, Baylee, Blake and Belle Baker; Ethan and Kyle Stark; Townshend Perry and Hailey Lynch.
Family and friends are cordially invited to gather and share memories with his family on Monday, September 27th from 4 to 8pm at Cota Funeral Home 335 Park St., North Reading, Massachusetts.
The funeral will be held from the Cota Funeral Home on Tuesday, September 28th at 9:30 , followed by a mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 am from Saint Athanasius Church, 300 Haverhill St., Reading.
Interment will be at the Forest Glen Cemetery, followed by a reception at the Horseshoe Grille in North Reading to celebrate Al’s life.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making gifts in Al’s memory to Saint Athanasius Church, 300 Haverhill Street, Reading, Massachusetts 01867.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Alfred L. Perry, please visit our floral store.