Chester Perry used to love cars. The former insurance claims adjuster was a natural with motors and would be under the hood of a car in a flash; until he started cycling, that is.
Once Perry fell in love with cycling, his affinity for automobiles waned, friends and family said.
“For the past 13 years he’d much rather cycle or take public transportation,” said his companion, Lindi Meadows of Atlanta. “If we were going out to dinner, and it was between a place that was close and one not so close, we’d often pick the one that was closer so we could walk.”
An active member of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, the Southern Bicycle League and Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety (PEDS), Perry even built bicycles and sold them, said his brother, Mike Fowler of Greensboro, N.C.
“He was mechanically inclined,” Fowler said. “He would take older bicycles and completely retool them.”
But he could always do that kind of thing, his sister said.
“When he was a kid he was building go-karts and cars,” said Peggy Fowler Thornton of Hendersonville, N.C. “I think for his senior year science project he built a car, and on the last day of school he finally got it running. All of his friends piled in, and of course it had no muffler, but they pull up to Dykes High School in this really loud car, but to a lot of cheers, because it really was a feat.”
Chester Newton “Pete” Perry III, of Atlanta, died Monday from complications of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 67.
A memorial service is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday at H.M. Patterson & Son Oglethorpe Hill, which is also in charge of arrangements. He will be buried at a later date, near his father and grandparents, in Charleston, S.C.
An Atlanta native, Perry graduated from W.F. Dykes High in 1963 and enrolled at the University of Georgia. He graduated from UGA in 1968 with a bachelor’s in business administration and math. Perry served in the Army from 1968 until 1971, and was stationed in South Korea. He returned to Georgia and earned a master’s in education from Georgia State University in 1977.
Perry explored life in on the West coast and in the Midwest before accepting a job in Atlanta, during the mid-‘80s as a claims adjuster in Atlanta. He retired in 1994 and then operated a home repair business, Handy Guy, until 2004.
When his ALS began taking its toll Perry had to stop cycling, but he didn’t stop tinkering with things around his house.
“It was amazing that he lived alone, with what he was dealing with,” Thornton said, of her brother. “It would blow your mind, how he figured out how to make things in his house work. He had a wonderful girlfriend, but he wanted to care for himself as much as he could.”
In addition to his brother and sister, Perry is survived by his mother, Caroline Fowler of Hendersonville, N.C.; and a second sister, Susan Perry Davis of Charleston, S.C.