Elmer McCoy Perry was born January 20, 1936, to the union of James E. Perry and Rosa M. Perry in Eagle Rock, North Carolina. He was the second youngest of twelve children and was called to eternal rest on July 1, 2021, at the age of 85. Growing up on a farm, Elmer helped his family raise tobacco, corn and wheat from a young age. In high school, he was thrilled to get a job as a school bus driver, and he had a reputation for always getting his bus to its next stop on time. In the 10th grade, Elmer’s friend introduced him to Dayola Holden. He immediately fell for her and they continued to date throughout high school and college.
He graduated from James E. Shepard High School in Zebulon, North Carolina in 1954. Elmer went on to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he excelled in his studies. While in school, he pledged Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated, and crossed the burning sands on May 3rd, 1957, as the Dog Captain of his line. Elmer graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1959. Not forgetting his long-time sweetheart, after college, Elmer married Dayola on November 12, 1961.
Elmer began his professional career as a structural engineer at the Aeronautical Systems Division of the Department of the Air Force. He was later promoted to management and worked on programs such as the F-4 aircrafts, air launch cruise missiles, and the development of the F-16 aircrafts. While pursuing his career, Elmer continued his studies at the University of Dayton, earning a Master of Business Administration in 1975. Elmer not only excelled as an engineer but was also an adjunct associate professor of engineering at Wilberforce University. Elmer was baptized and received Christ at an early age at Eagle Rock Christian Church. He was a dedicated leader and member within every church he was a apart of throughout the years. He was a deacon, filled in for his pastor by giving sermons, volunteered at events, and always wanted to attend any additional programs that the church held.
As a life member, Elmer was also very active with his beloved fraternity Omega Psi Phi. He never wanted to miss a meeting, held the title of Basileus of his local chapter, attended all the formal functions, and was recognized as “Omega Man of the Year” twice. Additionally, Elmer and Dayola traveled the world together, with some of Elmer’s favorite places to visit being Paris, Tennessee, South Carolina and New York. At home, he enjoyed helping Dayola in the garden, and of course, watching every football game possible. Although he was normally a quiet man, his thunderous voice could often be heard yelling at the television when a bad call was made by a referee during a game.
To his family, he was known as the family leader. Elmer was solely responsible for starting the Perry family reunions in the 1970s and hosting those reunions for numerous consecutive years. He was also highly respected and valued by his in-laws, playing a critical role in helping them to form their family corporation. Although Elmer wasn’t a man of many words, the words he spoke were highly respected. Elmer’s big hugs, sweet smile, giving heart, and strong presence will be tremendously missed by his family and friends.
Elmer is survived by his wife Dayola Perry, brother Theron Perry (Cleo), and a host of nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters-in-law, and friends.
Elmer was predeceased by his parents, James E. Perry and Rosa M. Perry; brothers, Millard Perry, Rody Perry, Howard Perry, James Perry, Albert Perry, and Roscoe Perry; sisters, Melrose Canady (survived by Leroy Canady), Justine Walker, Odessa Sherril, and Samantha Cruikshank; and Nevada Perry Mitchell.
Memorial Service: 12:00 PM, Wednesday, July 7, 2021 at Lea Funeral Home Chapel, 2500 Poole Road, Raleigh, NC.
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