RIP, Jack Perry.

I was saddened to learn today of the death of Jack Perry.

Who?

Mr. Perry was a nice man from College Park who I knew in two unique ways.

First, as a reporter at The Diamondback at the University of Maryland, I covered Mr. Perry in his role as a city councilman. He also was my next-door neighbor for my last two years of school.

It’s kind of funny that one of my very first sources as a reporter was also one of my first neighbors living on my own.

I was grateful that Mr. Perry and the other politicians and officials in the City of College Park treated me with respect.

I’m sure they sometimes got sick of the endless stream of student reporters who cycled through City Hall to cover elections and council meetings.

But Mr. Perry and the others always answered my questions, agreed to my interview requests and didn’t give me crap when I undoubtedly asked dumb questions.

Perhaps more than any of my j-school classes, I learned how to be a real reporter covering the City of College Park.

Mr. Perry also was a great neighbor.

The neighborhood we lived in, Berwyn, had some rentals for college kids, but fewer than other neighborhoods. But I bet my house had been rented to students for years and years.

I always figured Mr. Perry must have taken a liking to the group I rented the house with — six girls who studied a lot and only had blowout parties once or twice a semester. (I swear!)

We had one bedroom that was illegal under the fire code, and I don’t think we were allowed to have six unrelated people living in one house, but Mr. Perry  never turned us in.

In fact, he was super helpful to us.

I remember one fall, the city was going to come around with trucks to vacuum up leaves. The trouble was, we had no way to get all of the leaves from the backyard to the front curb.

Mr. Perry loaned us a tarp to help move the leaves. He also climbed on top of our roof to clear leaves — well above and beyond what most neighbors would do, especially for a bunch of college kids.

Jack Perry was a good guy who cared a lot about his community. I got to see that as a journalist and as a neighbor, and I’m glad.

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