John Poague Perry, 101, passed away on Thursday, October 20, 2022 at home in Champaign, Illinois. There will be a private family service and burial on Friday, October 28 at Memorial Funeral Home in Columbia, Missouri. He will be buried there next to his beloved wife Verna who passed away in 2012.
John was born on a farm near Windsor, Missouri on November 14, 1920, to Frank William Perry and Eula Belle Poague. He had an older sister Ruth and a younger brother Gene, both now deceased. In 1933, the farm was lost in a foreclosure during the Great Depression, so the family moved to Columbia, Missouri, and started over. His father Frank then found a job at the local gas company Missouri Utilities Company which was acquired by Union Electric Company in the 1950’s. Union Electric has since become Ameren Missouri.
While students at the University of Missouri, John met Verna Lee Gretzinger in 1941, and they were married on August 1, 1943 at the farm of Verna’s father John Gretzinger near Urich, Missouri. John joined the US Army in June 1942, and was shipped out to Europe in June 1944 on the Queen Elizabeth to serve in the US Army during World War II. He was in Europe for 19 months, serving as an officer in the field artillery of Patton’s Third Army after the D-Day landings. The Third Army fought across central France and southern Germany, ending up near Munich. While fighting in Germany, John was awarded a Bronze Star.
When he returned from Europe in 1946, John completed his BS degree in Business Administration at the University of Missouri in 1947. He then began his long career with the University as an accountant in the Office of the Comptroller. His first assignment was to audit the revenues for bond issues to build the first dormitories on campus. John and Verna had two sons, Martin Kent born in February 1950 and David Keith born in August 1952. Martin now lives in Champaign, Illinois and David now lives with his family in Sidney, Illinois. David and his wife Lori have two sons, Michael and Andrew. In 1956, University President Elmer Ellis asked John to join the Business Office at the new University of Missouri Medical Center, and he became the Associate Director in 1959. In 1960, John was granted a sabbatical leave to earn an MS degree in Hospital Administration from Northwestern University.
In 1963, the University Comptroller asked John to move to St. Louis and help build the new campus of the University of Missouri at St. Louis (UMSL) on the property of the original Bellerive Country Club in Normandy, Missouri. Over the next 24 years, John supervised the construction of campus buildings and the growth of the administrative staff. John was appointed as the UMSL Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services in 1975, and retired in 1987. John and Verna lived in the same house in Creve Coeur, Missouri from 1965 to 2012. In February 2012, they moved to Champaign, Illinois to live with their son Martin who had joined the Department of Economics at the University of Illinois. Verna passed away at Martin’s home on May 14, 2012, and John continued to live with Martin until he passed away at Martin’s home on October 20.
Arrangements are under the direction of Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 West, Columbia, Missouri, 65202. Share condolences and memories with the family online at www.memorialfuneralhomeandcemetery.com.
Posted online on October 21, 2022
Published in the Columbia Daily Tribune