Remembering Mr. Perry


It was common to see Mr. Perry at work all over the school

Eden Beyene, Staff

Building services worker James Perry has passed away after over forty-five years of service to Catonsville High School.

He began here in 1972, eventually working as the head of the custodial staff before retiring.

“When I got here in 2004… one of the first people I met was Mr. Perry… He was so warm and welcoming and soft-spoken… very kind. And it seems like all the kids knew the name Mr. Perry,” reminisced STAT teacher Jo-Ellen O’Dell.

Many teachers remember Mr. Perry from the beginning of their careers at CHS; some were even students during his time here.

“He was here before two of the buildings were even built: before the science and tech building and before the art wing,” explained Bryan Epps, current head of custodial staff. Mr. Epps, a good friend of Mr. Perry, has a clear admiration for Mr. Perry’s dedication to his work.

“Mr. Perry felt the school was like his house,” said Mr. Epps. “He ensured it opened on time, that it was clean, and that it was safe for students and staff.”

The tireless work of Mr. Perry was seen in school every day. Changing the school locker combinations by hand, shoveling coal inside to keep furnaces running, and making sure the flag was risen were just a few of the jobs he performed.

“His motto was ‘Let’s get the job done’. Big or small, whatever it was, he believed in getting the job done,” said Mr. Epps.

Work ethic was not Mr. Perry’s only admirable quality; his personality also brightened day of others.

“He was just like a ray of positive… influence on everybody… He would talk about anything, you know, and with a smile on his face,” said science teacher Danika Ford.

Other teachers were similarly impacted by Mr. Perry.

“He made the building a better place not just because he took such good care of it, but because he really set an example of… friendliness and… service that I really took to heart. I miss him,” Ms. O’Dell said.

Teachers were told Mr. Perry had retired at the beginning of the year. Before this, Mr. Perry had been becoming less active in school; eventually, it was shared that he had health issues. It was hard for many when they were told he passed.

“[There was] an overall sadness for sure…To actually hear that he had passed was… pretty difficult for a lot of us who had worked with him a long time,” said Ms. Ford.

An important figure here was gone; CHS felt the loss of a dedicated worker and friend.