PERRY, SAMUEL V. (10 June 1895-14 May 1968), Cleveland lawyer, safety expert, and private investigator, was appointed as Ohio's first African American parole officer, in charge of Cuyahoga County parolees (1930-32). From 1932-48, Perry worked in various municipal offices, including the Streets Department (1933-47), and Municipal Court, first as clerk (1951-53), then information consultant (1953-64). Perry was born in Jamestown, NY, but came to Cleveland as a child; he attended the CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS. He worked at HALLE BROTHERS (1912-17, 1919-21), moving from shining shoes to inspecting "floor boys." Perry joined the U.S. Army during WORLD WAR I. In 1923 he received a Bachelor of Law degree from the Blackstone College of Law in Chicago, after apprenticing under Cleveland attorney Frank W. Stanton. He later attended the Marshall School of Law and FENN COLLEGE. Interested in traffic safety, Perry led programs such as an anti-jaywalking effort and traffic surveys, which reduced neighborhood traffic deaths dramatically.

Perry once managed the advertising for the CLEVELAND CALL & POST (1927) and edited a newspaper of his own, The Searchlight (between 1948 and 1951). During the last two decades of his life, Perry worked ardently to remove the word "Negro" from the American vocabulary, periodically publishing an "Open Letter to the Citizens of Cleveland" in local newspapers.

In August 1919, Perry married Willette A. Strode (d.1935); they had four sons, Herbert L., A. William, Charles B., and Samuel S. Perry, who served as first black mayor of WOODMERE from 1966-69. Perry married again in 1941, to Ellen B. Wilson. Perry belonged to the ANTIOCH BAPTIST CHURCH.


Perry, Samuel V. "Rhymes of Life" (1966).

Finding aid for the Samuel S. Perry Papers. WRHS.

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