Louis (Lou) Perry

1918 - 2013


Louis (Lou) Perry

March 4, 1918 — Sept. 28, 2013

Louis Barnes Perry, eighth president of Whitman College, passed away Sept. 28, 2013, at Washington Odd Fellows Home in Walla Walla. He was 95.

Born in Los Angeles to Julia Irene and Louis Henry Perry, he had one brother, Richard S. Perry. With the encouragement of his mother he earned a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in economics from UCLA.

He met Genevieve Patterson in graduate school and they married just before he was called to active duty in 1942. They were devoted to each other for 67 years. After the war, Lou continued to serve in the Reserves and finished his military career as a lieutenant colonel adjutant general department, retired.

Lou spent the first part of his civilian career in the academic world, first as a professor of economics at Pomona College and then as president of Whitman beginning in 1959. While at Whitman, he created a development office and launched major building and fund-raising campaigns that dramatically increased the size of the college’s asset base, endowment and buildings as well as the number of faculty and students. His efforts are often credited in bringing Whitman to national prominence.

Leaving Whitman in 1967, he became president and board chairman of Standard Insurance in Portland, spending the next 23 years serving in leadership positions in Oregon, including the State Board of Higher Education, Rotary and innumerable other companies and organizations. He continued to write for various publications as well. He retired and moved back to Walla Walla in 1990 to be closer to family but continued to remain active in the community making new friends along the way.

Life was not all business. Lou was a devoted Christian and served his church in many capacities, rarely missing a Sunday service. He was proud of his home and yard and especially loved his roses. He was appreciative of good food and an adventurous eater. He was thrifty in most aspects of his life with one exception: cars, fancy cars. He bought his first at age 16 and owned at least 35 different models over the years. He was devastated when his license was not renewed at age 93. Over the years he played cricket, softball, volleyball and badminton. When he finally stopped skiing at 70 he took up golf.

He was outgoing, curious, a great listener and treated everyone with courtesy and kindness. His memory for names and faces is legend. He lived the Golden Rule.

A devoted father and husband, he was always generous, supportive and encouraging to his three children, Robert B. Perry (Elizabeth) of Marion, S.D., Barbara P. Rutzer (Max) and Donna P. Jones (David) all of Walla Walla. Surviving also are eight grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren; his sister-in-law, Vera Perry; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service and reception will be held on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, at Pioneer United Methodist Church. Memorial contributions may be made to the Christian Aid Center, the Louis B. and Genevieve P. Perry Fund at the Blue Mountain Community Foundation, or the Louis B. Perry Summer Research Awards at Whitman or charity of choice.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment

Click here to sign in