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Terry Perk

Lyle Terry Perk, 85, Kalamazoo, MI. 01/17/2021. Born April 26th, 1935 to Lyle and Gladys (Snell) Perk, he passed away on 01/17/2021. Known to all his friends as Terry, he grew up on the East side of Kalamazoo. He attended Brucker Elementary, St. Mary's, and Roosevelt Junior High School. At the age of 13, his dad built him a go-cart, a project they worked on closely together. This sparked and interest in all things automotive, which served him well later in life. It was this close relationship with his father that turned him into not only an excellent mechanic, but a star athlete. Terry attended Kalamazoo Central High School, excelled in football and was elected Football King in 1952. It was during his high school years when he met the love of his life, Marilyn Mattison. Shortly after graduating in the summer of 1953, they were married on July 3rd in Alpena, Michigan, Marilyn's hometown. Terry began working at KVP in the print department. Later he moved on to H.J. Cooper's in Kalamazoo as an automobile mechanic. In 1959, he went into business for himself, purchasing Van's Body Shop. He later started Kalamazoo's first automotive rustproofing businesses. Ziebart and Tuff-Kote Dinol. After moving to Plainwell in 1975, he founded Perk Enterprises and in 1981 he purchased the 131 Drive-In Theatre, where he established Perk Auto Parts & Salvage. Terry is survived by his wife Marilyn Perk, 4 Sons, Dave Perk, Doug (Jane) Perk, Joe (Michelle) Perk, and Barry (Kim) Perk. He was preceded in Death by his son Mark Perk (08/30/2017). Terry is survived by his brother Phil Perk. Terry has 2 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Cremation has occurred. Memorial Services will be privately held at a later date. In Lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to Kairos Dwelling Home or charity of your choice. Terry impacted the lives of many people that he touched during his lifetime. He always looked above and beyond himself in the service of others. While at Terry's webpage at www.avinkcremation.com please take time to sign his guestbook by lighting a candle and/or sharing a memory with his family. The family is being assisted by Avink Funeral Home & Cremation Society, 129 S. Grand, Schoolcraft, MI 49087 (269) 679-5622.

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I found a letter that my Dad wrote a few months ago reflecting back on his life. Part 1 of "In my Own Words" I was born April 26th 1935 to Lyle C Perk and Gladys Snell Perk. At that time, they lived in apartment above my grandparents (moms parents), Joseph and Josephine Snell. Mom and Dad built a new house on Texel Dr, on the east side of Kalamazoo. I started school at Brucker Elementary, Kindergarten through 4th grade. I made a Crystal Radio Set. I ran a antenna wire out a window to a tree for reception. That was my project for the Show and Tell. The whole class used a set of headphones to listen. I could get two radio stations, WKZO and WKMI. After the 4th Grade, I went to St. Mary's Catholic School, grades 5th 6th. I became an alter boy. Father Bart was our Priest. He befriended me and we became close friends. Every Saturday I would wash his 2 cars, a Lincoln and a Chevrolet. I was 12 years old and I would drive the cars back home to wash them. My mother was shocked, and called Father Bart. She said, He is only 12 years old! Father Bart replied, Dont worry, Terry is a good driver. I also mowed the lawn and polished the tile floor in the church. After graduating from St. Mary's, I went to Roosevelt Jr. High, grades 7 - 9. I played football and was on the track team. I was a shot putter on the track team. My father always attended all my meets. I would usually Put the Shot between 40 to 41 feet. My dad came up to me and said, Son, when you feel like you can put is a mile, LET IT GO! I put the shot 465 and it set a school record for Roosevelt Jr. High. It still stands. It will never be broken as the school was torn down and replaced by apartments. I had a friend who had a go cart and he wanted to sell if for $12. After convincing my father to buy it for me, he looked it over and said, I can build you a better one than this. He took his Christmas bonus check and bought all new 4x8 balloon tires. He used a 2 horse lawn mower motor, a Ford Model T steering gear, a Studebaker seat and a Plymouth muffler. I drove my go-cart to school and all around the neighborhood. My father worked at KVP Paper Company. He was a foreman. KVP published a monthly issue (the KVP Supervisor). One issue had a picture of my father on the front page and wrote an article about the go-cart. I still have a copy of this article. He was a Great Father. He inspired me in all sports as he was and 8 letter man at Kalamazoo Central High School. He is the only one in the history of KCHS to play 4 years of Varsity football. I believe this is why he had the experiences to teach me how to achieve my accomplishments. I played football at KCHS for 3 years. I played left guard and left tackle. I was the teams punter. My farthest punt was 72 in the air at Angel Field. I was chosen Football King my last year. I received awards for All City, All Conference, and Honorable Mention for All State. While attending KCHS, I got a job at White Bros Plymouth DeSoto dealership. I started out sweeping floors and worked up to an apprentice mechanic. Then I became a Full Fledged Mechanic. My father was responsible for me taking an interest in automobiles, because of the go-cart he built me. I never lost interest. I worked at White Brothers until graduation from Kalamazoo Central High School. After graduation in June 1953, I married the love of my life, Marilyn Joan Mattison. She was the daughter of Victor and Fern Mattison of Alpena, Michigan. We were married by Rev. Lono in Alpena on July 3, 1953. We took our honeymoon to Mackinac Island. I was pick-pocketed and lost $160 which is equivalent to over $1,000 today.

Joe Perk Feb 9 2021 3:44 PM

Part 2 of "In my Own Words We lived with my parents. My dad converted the upstairs into an apartment. I worked at KVP in the print shop. I rode to work with my father everyday. My wife and I had our first child, David May 8th, 1954. My cousin, Jim Deneau was in the septic tank business. I switched my work shift to the midnight shift so I could meet Jim at 8 am. to go out and dig relief dry wells (with a shovel). He had a Model A flat bed, pipes, blocks, and 3 shovels. I could dig one dry well and start another before going home, eat supper, go to bed for 4 hours, and get back up for the midnight shift. I did this all summer and I started to feel the pressure of not getting enough sleep. In 1955 we purchased a home on Troy Ave southeast of Parchment. My neighbor Wendel Daniels was a painter at H.J. Coopers Plymouth-Dodge dealership. We became friends and he got me a job at H.J. Coopers as a mechanic. I had an addition on my garage. We would take on auto body and paint jobs. Not only was I a mechanic, but I was also learning Auto Body Repair and Painting. Then our second son, Douglas was born November 30, 1956. We now had 2 healthy boys. I continued working at H.J. Coopers until 1959. It was then that I decided to go into business for myself. Vans Body Shop was for sale. On a Saturday morning after work, I went to meet L. A. VanDiver, the owner. As I approached him, he was working on a Nash Rambler. I was watching him work and he did not say anything until he could not figure out the problem. He said, Do you know anything about this blanket y-blank Nash? I saw what needed to be done and I fixed it for him. After the customer left, I introduced myself and told him I would like to be a painter in his shop. He replied, No, I dont need any painter! Then we discussed Price. So I said ,Give me a week and I will return with the money to buy Vans Body Shop. I went home and called a friend of mine who was interested in buying my 1955 Plymouth. We made a deal and I had half the money I needed. Then I went to my Uncle John DiSalvo and told him my intentions. He loaned me the balance I needed to make the purchase. I went back to Van and we finished the paperwork. In November, 1959, I was in the auto body business. I talked a body man at H.J. Coopers to come work for me and he did. We worked well together as I was a mechanic and painter, and he could do all the body and frame work. Then on December 30, 1959 or 3rd son, Mark was born. We only had a 2 bedroom and needed and addition. So I worked with a friend, Doc Daugherty, who was a builder, to build the addition to our home. We had a ball building that addition! The addition had a large bathroom, 3 twin beds and a lot of closet space. Doc and I bowled together, fished together, a Great Friend. Then on October 10th 1961, our 4th son arrived. Bradley Joe. Our sons David and Doug were attending Burke Acres School. We were enjoying them with their activities. We got a blonde cocker spaniel named Ginger to play with. Family life was progressing and in 1963 I bought a Ziebart Rustproofing Franchise. I operated it on South Edwards Street for 1 year. Then I bought Fred Curtis Body Shop on Second Street. My Friend Doc Daugherty built and addition the the existing building. I moved both Ziebart Rustproofing and Vans Body Shop to combine both businesses at the Second Street location. On February 24th , 1964, my wife gave birth to twins, Barry and Garry. Unfortunately, Garry was still born. My son Barry burns a candle on his birthday in memory of his brother.

Joe Perk Feb 9 2021 3:41 PM

Part 3 of "In my Own Words" Once settled in our new location on Second Street, I acquired Body and Paint work from Engle Motors VW Dealership. A fellow by the name of Irv Woodhams brought his VW bus in for repairs. We became friends. He invited me on a fishing trip to Canada. He was a pilot and instructor. His pilots license was signed by Orville and Wilbur Wright. His license number was # 746. We flew his Cessna 180 float plane to his cabin on Wabus Lake in Canada. What a beautiful place. We caught many Pike and he had a cage in the lake where we put our catch until we were ready for a meal. After a few days of fishing, we flew back home. On the way back, I asked Irv if he would teach me how to become a pilot. He said he would. I took my instructions on flight rules and operation a plane. I became acquainted with all the instruments and radio use. Mr. Woodhams had a Aeronca Float Plane that he trained me in. After flying out of Austin Lake on floats, he trained me on land. After about 8 months, I took my grand schooling and flight test. I received my pilots license # 1879075. Several million more than Irv # 746. Irv and I enjoyed several years together. I joined the Civil Air Patrol at Austin Lake. We flew many grids to find problems on the ground. Irv move to Lake Placid, Florida. He flew until he was 85 years old. In 1965, we out grew our home on Troy Ave. There were 7 of us now. We found a very nice home on Jacille Ave in Comstock. The boys were of age to get involved in sports, cub scout, little league, etc. My son Dave, after graduation, went into the service.

Joe Perk Feb 9 2021 3:40 PM

Marilyn and Family: So sorry to read of Terry's passing. What a great guy! Cherish the many memories you all made over the years.

Marilyn Noble Lamborn Feb 5 2021 5:45 PM

I have so many wonderful memories of your Father. I will never forget when he came down the road dressed as Santa to deliver us girls a new snowmobile for Christmas. He was loved by so many.:hearts: Thank you Terry for being a part of my life. Janet Monroe

Janet Monroe Jan 29 2021 5:51 PM

6 files added to the album From the early years

Joe Perk Jan 29 2021 11:21 AM

5 files added to the album Mid Life years

Joe Jan 29 2021 11:17 AM

2 files added to the album Mid Life years

Bradley Jan 28 2021 6:49 AM

2 files added to the album From the early years

Bradley Jan 27 2021 8:24 AM

3 files added to the album Retirement Years

Bradley Jan 27 2021 8:22 AM

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