November 29, 1941 - January 11, 2013
January 15, 2013 ~ I met JP Perry back in March 1999 when I began employment for Perry Towing which was the company he owned. It was a full service gas station with a towing company and I was hired to field the tow calls and help with the books. We took his manual operation of bookkeeping and made it easier by using QuickBooks to do the monthly billing which is what I use today in our business. JP was a wonderful, kind, sincere man who would always smile. He taught me so many things about life and running a business. He was a proud husband, father and grandpa and you would hear him often talk about his family that meant so much to him. His eyes would light up when his kids or grand-kids would stop by. He was proud of each of his kids and loved them all so much. He was proud of his son Doug as he worked in the family business and would soon take over ownership. He might have put a little pressure on Doug from time to time but he was molding him into a great businessman that he is today.
I had the pleasure of becoming great friends with JP and while working for him for 3 years I feel that I have known him for a lifetime. I can't help but share with you some of the best memories that I will always remember.....
JP was the first person that called me "Sug". It was a name that everyone got called and something I call a lot of you. When I say "Sugar" or "Sug" to some of my greatest friends I can't help but remember JP saying that. Of course if you go up to the station today it's something Doug and Annie will often say which makes me smile. Such a simple thing yet means so much to me.
JP often brought his grandson, Brian with him to help him tow cars when he wasn't in school. Brian was in heaven riding around in the tow trucks with his grandpa and he loved the Dukes of Hazard. Well one day he decided to give me a name.... as the dispatcher my new name was "Lula". JP would be known as "Boss Hog" and Brian would be known as "Bo Duke". I still laugh when I think about "Bo Duke" calling "Lula" on the radio ready for a tow call!
Somehow there was a kid named Toby that came to work up at the station to get school credits. (I really can't remember how he became employed but it was only for a portion of the day) He would help out with the full service gas station and pump gas. One day it was crazy busy at the station. Cars were waiting to get into the lot to get fuel and Toby was getting hungry so he took it upon himself to walk over to Nowell's Grocery Store next door to get something to eat. He didn't tell anyone where he was going and JP had named him "Thunderbolt". He would come in the station and say "Where in the world is Thunderbolt at we need him on the pumps". It was busy inside the station with tow calls coming in so I didn't have a clue. Before too long Toby came walking back up the hill with his lunch. He walked inside and sat down in one of the chairs and started eating his spaghetti. (Bless his heart... he had that stuff all over his face). When JP walked through the door he looked at Toby and said "Now Thunderbolt, you just set right there and eat your lunch and don't let anyone bother you" in a very sarcastic way. Well sure enough Doug walked in and said "Toby get out there and help us can't you see we're slammed" so Toby said "Well JP said I could sit right here and no one would bother me" I quickly looked at him and said "Toby if I were you I would sit my lunch down and go help them". When the huge rush was over JP talked to him to let him know that when it's busy we will eat after the rush is over. He was really nice and explained what he meant but boy JP and I sure laughed about that day and from time to time JP would ask if I had seen ol' Thunderbolt!
JP would never say "goodbye" when he was done talking to you on the phone. You would have a conversation and when he was done you just heard "click". That drove me crazy but it was just JP. He wasn't mad or wasn't trying to upset you it's just what he did. So finally one day I got the courage to call him back up. I said "JP why don't you ever say goodbye when you hang up the phone?" He paused for a moment and said "Well Sug, maybe I wasn't done talking to you now what do you think about that?" I had to laugh and thought well you were done talking to me at that exact time but we would probably talk 2 or 3 more times before the day was up. So next phone call I quickly said "Bye JP" and I think he was in shock because I heard a long pause (as if he was just going to hang up the phone) and a quick "Bye" then "click". From just about that time until the last time I talked to him in September 2012 he would say "Bye" or "Bye Sug".
JP would call me randomly from time to time just to check on me and see how things were going. You could always here the smile in his voice and although we wouldn't talk for longer than 2 or 3 minutes it was always great to hear his voice. He would call me yearly to get me to buy a golf hole sponsor for the Grotto Golf Tournament and anything free like 100 pens and 100 notepads! Of course because it was JP I would always do it.
So once this article was ready to be released for print I talked to JP (I think I called him) to tell him thank you for being such a mentor in life for me. My voice started to crack as I held back the tears as I told him that he was someone that I looked up to and I appreciated him. He could sense that I was starting to cry so thankfully he said "I'm proud of you Sug for all you have done and keep up the great job." then we hung up the phone. This would be the last time I talked to JP. (This story never published in the Rural Missouri and we rather focused on the children's book I wrote and a wonderful article was published in December 2012)
As you can see we had a lot of great times together and he was someone that I respected a lot. He was a mentor, friend and a great man. I am so proud to have met JP and his family. They mean the world to him and that meant a lot to me. (His wife, Becky, helped take care of my Grandma Crews when she was on hospice and she was my world) As they laid his body to rest his memory will live on. He has impacted so many lives throughout his 71 years on this earth that he won't be forgotten. It won't be the same without you JP but one day we'll all meet again.