I felt a need to attend Dan Perry's Celebration of Life. Even though I did not know him that well, I could sense, in my mostly indirect interactions, that he was a gentle and giving soul. Dan Perry graduated from Hauser and started a body shop business at his parents' house in 1979 and then continued just off State Road 9 and near Hope in 1984, appropriately named Perry's Body Shop.

Andy Baker was young when offered a job by Dan. He said, “I was spending a lot of time at the body shop making repairs to my truck.” Danny said, 'If you are spending every day here, then you might as well start working here.'

“The very next day, Danny had me buffing a car that he painted. He had to take care of some errands and gave me a list of things to do and asked me to lock up the shop afterward. Only Dan could be this trusting of a 17-year-old kid. Dan was always there for me as long as I can remember. The things he taught me are endless and will forever be cherished.”

Now and then, I would be at Cornett's Corner Cafe when Dan would be there, always with someone from the family. Ron Cornett said, “Dan was an awesome individual, the best of the best. He often chose to eat here. I was in shock, like the entire community, when one of his employees made a special trip to inform me of his sudden death.”

When teaching fifth graders at Hope Elementary, I had a student who Dan and Deana were trying to help due to some difficult circumstances. Their care for this young lady was quite obvious during a parent/teacher conference, and Deana is pleased she is now a successful adult.

Not long ago, I had a brief conversation with Dan about whether or not it would be worth my time and money to put new life into a 1995 Eagle Talon purchased for my first daughter years ago and later by a sister. I appreciated his quick and honest evaluation suggesting it was time to let it go.

I heard there was a never ending line at his viewing, and there were many present for his funeral, as evident by the packed parking lot and attendees extending from the primary room to another room. Throughout his life, Dan Perry obviously connected with a lot of people.

Steve Fortner officiated and started by stating, “I'm not a professions speaker.” I don't think the Perry family could have found a better speaker.

Steve then followed his initial remark with scripture from James, Chapter 1: Verses 2-4, “My brothers, whenever you have to face trials of many kinds, count yourselves supremely happy, in the knowledge that such testing of your faith breeds fortitude, and if you give fortitude full play you will go on to complete a balance character that will fall short in nothing.”

Undoubtedly, Dan found that balance. It is evident in his obituary, in speaking to others, in reading numerous comments on his obituary page, in listening to Steve. It is not an easy task in this world finding balance in this life. There is a need to take care of your family by working and the need to make sure you devote time to them as a husband, father, grandfather, and ...

I have become aware of one story after another how Dan could fix vehicles and fix them right, a skill that many of us have never acquired, a profession that I am sure can be quite complicated and one that I suspect has become much more complicated over the years. As Steve mentioned, Dan would even go beyond what was expected at times. Steve found that out firsthand as well as many others like Lance Marsh.

Lance said, “Dan was a great example of a family man and true friend to many. He was always doing anything, at anytime, anywhere, for everyone. Dan even helped me load cattle at 5:00 a.m so that I didn't miss any work. And one of his brothers, David, reminded me, 'I would have to stop tearing up my (stuff) without Dan around to fix it.'

“Our memories are full of the many great things Dan Perry did. This man can not be replaced, but we can cherish his memories and help his family by sharing what he meant to us.”

And Steve did a great job sharing what family and friends meant to Dan, in particular his five “cherished grandkids.” I could certainly identify since my new career after retiring from education is taking care of our two young grandchildren full time while their parents are teaching. It is a gift hard to describe, the best of gifts.

Jason Setser said, “Danny was a good friend to my dad. When I was younger, Dad let me work in the shop with Dan, and I learned a lot. When my dad passed away, Danny stepped in as a father figure to me and my brothers.

“As time passed and I got older, he became a good friend too. Danny was always there to give advice when I called or needed something. When we got sick a few months ago, Deana and Danny brought us enough soup to feed us for a week. That's just the kind of people they are, not just friends but family!”

For 41 years, Dan and Deana were married, a feat which speaks volumes about their relationship. I called and talked with Deana. She has lots of great memories, a few which she shared during our conversation. When expressing how much she missed Dan, we broke out in laughter after these words, “This is about the time Dan would fall asleep in his favorite chair. I didn't think I would ever miss his snoring, but I do.”

We all miss Dan, including his “beloved dog,” Finesse. Individuals like Dan Perry are irreplaceable, but we can continue his legacy by connecting to and making a positive difference in the lives of others. I know Andy, Steve, Lance, and Jason will strive to do their very best, all that Dan would ask.

If wishing to honor Dan through a memorial contribution, it can be made to the Mike Cox Scholarship Fund through the National Swine Registry.