PERRY, HILBERT W. (3 May 1922 - 20 Sept. 1997) was a civil rights worker and advocate for needy families and the rights of the elderly.
He was raised in Chicago by his maternal grandmother and graduated from DuSable High School. He was drafted into the Army and served in the Pacific during WORLD WAR II. After his discharge, he moved to Lorain. He played the nightclub circuit as drummer for a jazz band and sold insurance for the Supreme Life Insurance Co., developing his own method for selling policies by phone from his home as an alternative to door-to-door sales in 1961. He attended Western Reserve University from 1958 to 1960, then enrolled at CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY.
In 1963 he became active in civil rights issues. For five years he served as director of the Bruce Klunder Freedom House (see DOMESTIC WORKERS OF AMERICA), an advocacy center on the East Side. He worked in voter registration drives and on neighborhood issues. After chairing the Metropolitan Affairs Commission of the Council of Churches of Christ of Greater Cleveland, he became the commission's director in 1969. Perry formed the Ohio Coalition of Senior Citizens Organizations in 1977 and headed it until 1990, when he retired for health reasons. He became a spokesman for the needs of the elderly, once testifying before a Senate committee on behalf of retirees. He moved to a senior's home in Lakewood after retiring, but continued to advise his neighbors at the senior center who had difficulty with medical bills.
Mr. Perry had a son, Paul, and a daughter, Dana. He died at the WADE PARK VA MEDICAL CENTER.
View image at Cleveland Public Library.