John Douglas Perry

PerryJohn Douglas Perry, 83, on June 17, 2020, of natural causes at Sharon Hospital in Sharon, Conn. John lived with Parkinson’s disease for more than 20 years, spending the final two years of his life in the Geer Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Geer Village Senior Community in Canaan, Conn. John was born on May 6, 1937, in Isleworth, London, England, to Herbert Perry and Phyllis Ivy Perry. John excelled in school and sports. He served in the British Army in 1956–58. After completing his undergraduate degree in history, John went on to complete a master of business administration in the United States.

John married Sybil McGiveran in 1966, and together they raised three sons. He built a career as a business consultant, specializing in strategic planning and implementation.

John was an active Friend following his move to the United States, first at Asheville (N.C.) Meeting, then at Wilton (Conn.) Meeting, where he became a member in 1975. He served Wilton Meeting as a member of many committees, including Long Range Planning, Sanctuary, and Peace and Service, and as the meeting’s clerk. In 1994, he transferred his membership to Bulls Head-Oswego Meeting in Clinton Corners, N.Y. At Bulls Head, he led a twice-a-month spiritual nurture group, and facilitated workshops on spiritual nurturance at other N.Y. meetings in Albany and Syracuse. He served New York Yearly Meeting on the Witness Coordinating Committee, Ministry and Counsel Coordinating Committee, Peace Committee, and the Task Group on Conflict Transformation, as well as the Traveling Friends Advisory Group. John was a participant at Nine Partners Quarterly Meeting and Northeastern Regional Meeting gatherings.

John’s Quaker commitment led him to join the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). As an AVP facilitator, he led workshops at Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville, N.Y., and MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Conn. During the Vietnam War, his commitment to peace led to his arrest in New York City for protesting the war.

John was deeply concerned about politics and the state of the world. He served on the board of the United Nations Association of Northwest Connecticut. Writing poetry was a lifelong interest. Following the family’s move to the Sharon area, he joined the Oliver Wolcott Poetry Group. Friends remember him for his love for his family and the outdoors. Before his Parkinson’s diagnosis, John led Friends in walking meditations. After the diagnosis, he continued writing poetry and added new activities: photography and volunteering with hospice.

In a 2007 talk to Housatonic Meeting in New Milford, Conn., John reflected on the double impact of Parkinson’s disease and the loss, 11 years earlier, of his son Philip: “I have to ‘let go and let God,’ and discover the power of contemplative prayer. I must allow myself to live into the faith section of Faith and Practice. I must turn adversity into a gift.” He shared that gift with Friends at Bulls Head-Oswego Meeting, where his presence at meetings for worship was deeply important. Friends also remember John as a Friend who ate with gusto. He loved marmalade but not chocolate.

John was preceded in death by his parents and one son, Philip. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Sybil Perry; two children, Ted Perry (Jennifer) and David Perry (Chandra Dorsey); one grandchild; and two brothers in England, Roland Perry (Clare) and Colin Perry (Julie).

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