Obituary: Gene Rich Perry, 1928-2020 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Gene Rich Perry, 1928-2020

Shelburne woman "maintained a strong and frequent connection to her family"

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Gene Perry - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Gene Perry

Gene Rich Perry died at the Arbors in Shelburne, Vt., on October 14, 2020. She was 92 years old. She was born Gene Eva Rich in South Newbury, N.H., on April 29, 1928, the daughter of Bertha Colburn Rich and Merle Rich. She was named after her paternal grandmother, Geneva Shepard Rich.

Gene was chosen as valedictorian of the Simonds High School class of 1945 in Warner, N.H. She got her BA from Plymouth State College in 1949 and did graduate studies at the University of Michigan. She taught commercial arts at Andover High School in New Hampshire for two years, eventually taking a business arts position at Vermont College in Montpelier, Vt., where she became chair of the business department and director of alumni affairs.

She was beloved “Aunt Gene” to one niece and five nephews. No matter where she worked, lived or traveled, Gene always maintained a strong and frequent connection to her family. The large community she built included many of her former students and teaching colleagues.

Gene married Nelson Perry in 1977 and, at the age of 49, began a new phase of her life, immediately acquiring seven stepchildren and eventually eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Gene and Nel lived in Barre, Vt., and at their beloved camp at Dog Pond in Woodbury. When they retired, they moved to Englewood, Fla. During their marriage, Gene and Nel traveled extensively in the Caribbean and in Europe. After Nelson died in 1993, Gene moved to Sun City Center, Fla., across the fairway from her brother Al and sister-in-law Joan. In the summer, Gene would always come back to New England to be with her family.

Gene's tough resourcefulness, genuine kindness and willingness to go along with whatever was happening made her beloved by her stepchildren and grandchildren. Her many activities ranged from cooking up fresh-caught bass at camp to teaching the grandchildren how to shuffle cards in between games of cribbage or rummy. She delighted in building sand castles, collecting shells, and teaching us about wildlife and plants. She enjoyed every aspect of her life and her family, from cleaning the windows to watching the thunderstorms roll in across the pond. Gene loved the outdoors and picnics, and she was an avid skier and golfer throughout her life.

Gene was steadfast, grounded, knowledgeable and a careful documenter of her life. From the daily logs of sightings at Dog Pond to the detailed captions on the back of each photo, she kept track of everyone and everything. She always remembered birthdays, anniversaries and attended every graduation. She was a consistent voice of caring and connection, and her commitment to family and keeping everyone connected was a vital role she played for us, something she valued instinctively and faithfully.

Gene is survived by her brother Paul Rich of Laconia, N.H., and her sister, Betty Craigie of South Newbury. She was predeceased by her brothers Merle Rich Jr. and Alan Rich. Her ashes will be interred at the cemetery in Newbury, N.H., with her parents. She is home now.

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