Lee Joseph Perry

Lee Joseph Perry, born June 12, 1942, died peacefully at home in Grand Rapids, Mich., Wednesday, May 26, 2021, surrounded by family.

Lee grew up in and around Keene but spent most of his adult life in Maine and Michigan. He held a wide range of interesting and difficult jobs, but in his later career found acclaim and great satisfaction as a project coordinator building museum exhibits. He loved the complex problem-solving required by this job and took pride in bringing projects in on time and under budget. Lee defined his life largely by the mentors, partners, children and even strangers who helped him be a better person. He found meaning by telling stories and crafting a narrative of his personal journey that was filled with heroes and villains, humor and pathos, playful exaggeration and deep truths. He also took great pleasure in music until his last days, listening to Willie Nelson, the Big Bopper, Commander Cody and Leonard Cohen, among many others.

Lee Perry lived by a code. Six months before he died, he had a “business card” made to hand out to his caregivers. On the front it said, “Lee Perry, Come on Down!” On the back it said, “B.S. factor of Zero.” Everyone who knew Lee will understand just how faithfully he stuck to that code.

Lee is survived by his wife, Mary Esther Lee; his daughter, Becca Perry-Hill, her husband, Skyler Hill, and her children, Maya and Max; his son, Matthew Perry, and his wife, Betsey Finn; his stepchildren, Karen Lee and Ted Lee; his first life partner, Betsy Perry-White, and her husband, Russell White; his brother, Tim Perry, and his wife, Julie Perry; his brother, Vernon Perry; many nieces and nephews; and his stepmother, Jeannie Perry, of Surry.

Lee’s legacy of overcoming challenges to live a life of love, loyalty, and joy lives on from New Hampshire to Michigan to North Carolina and beyond.