Former King Philip Teacher Bequeaths Large Gift to Food Pantry
On June 28, Bob Perry’s donation was acknowledged at a check presentation ceremony at the Hebron Food Pantry. On hand to present the check to Heather Porreca were Perry’s friends, all retired KPHS colleagues. From left, Richard Ahern, KP English teacher, Dave Webb, KP math teacher, Bill Lepere, KP math teacher, and Robert Houde, KP English teacher.
By Grace Allen
In late June, the Hebron Food Pantry in Attleboro received a gift totaling almost $70,000, thanks to the generosity of a former King Philip High School teacher. Robert “Bob” Perry passed away on November 13, 2021, at the age of 84, but he will always be remembered for the impact his gift will have on area residents struggling with food insecurity.
According to Heather Porreca, president of the food pantry’s board of directors, Hebron buys most of the food it distributes from the Greater Boston Food Bank. Every dollar translates into $20 of buying power.
That means Perry’s gift will equal about $1.3 million dollars’ worth of foodPorreca says she was in shock when she found out.
“The executor of his estate called me out of the blue, and asked if I was sitting down,” Porreca related. “I’m thinking the donation would be $1,000 or maybe $2,500. But instead, she told me the total amount was $69,852.53. It’s literally unreal.”
As a donation and grant-based organization, the food pantry has always scrambled for funding, said Porreca.
“Now we will be able to buy more diverse food for our client base, at an enormous discount through the Greater Boston Food Bank,” she said. “We will be able to use this money for years to come.”
Nancy Sherren, the executor of Perry’s will and a long-time friend, said Bob was an Attleboro resident who wanted a percentage of his estate to go to an Attleboro charity.
“He was a good, decent person,” said Sherren. “He didn’t have an expensive lifestyle but was always very generous with what he did have. He contributed to many charities throughout his life, which I discovered after he passed and I had to go through his mail. Bob never wanted a lot of attention, but people should know how generous he was.”
Sherren said Bob was also a good friend to many people, and a good son to his mother, often taking her on trips to Vermont. Perry enjoyed golf and played in several leagues. He was a 1955 graduate of North Attleboro High School and liked going to all of the King Philip and North Attleboro football games.
He also excelled at cards, participating in several poker tournaments.
“Bob was very good at Texas Hold ‘Em because he was very mathematical and good with numbers,” said Sherren.
Perry taught math at King Philip High School for 32 years and stayed connected to the school even after he left. He was part of a group of retired KP teachers who kept in touch with each other socially and to support the next crop of teachers at the school. His generosity did not surprise Scott Kramer, a current mathematics teacher at the high school who was hired after Perry retired.
“He would always come to events like Christmas parties or retirement parties,” said Kramer. “He was the nicest man, always super professional and polite. He made everyone feel welcome when they joined the staff, or any time we had a social event. I bet he did give to many charities, probably with no one knowing about it.”
Neva Lazzara teaches AP Calculus at KP High School. Bob Perry, she said, was her instructor when she attended KPHS and the reason she went into teaching herself.
“He had such a clear, detailed, organized approach to teaching, and a positive, fun love of the subject that led to the success of his students,” said Lazzara. “Calculus became my favorite subject, and if it wasn’t for him, I would never been a mathematics major in college nor a teacher. And now, full circle, I am teaching calculus at King Philip.”
As executor, Sherren was tasked with going through Perry’s possessions after he passed away. Among the items, she found Bob’s high school letterman’s sweater. She plans to donate it to North Attleboro High School, in the hope of inspiring and reminding students that their actions, no matter how big or small, can make an impact on the world.
“He made a difference,” she reflected.
The Hebron Food Pantry is located at 11 Sanford St., Attleboro, in the lower level of the Centenary United Methodist Church. It serves about 1,300 people each week, from the towns of Attleboro, N. Attleboro, Mansfield, Norton, Plainville, Rehoboth, and Seekonk.