James “Jim” Perry of Ann Arbor, Michigan, passed away peacefully and surrounded by the love of his family on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, after a six-year battle with cancer. Jim was 55 years old. 

Jim was born November 20, 1966, in Flint, Michigan, to the late Patricia Perry (Rasak) and Richard Perry. He attended St. John’s in Fenton and graduated from Luke M. Powers Catholic High School in Flint in 1985, where he met his high school sweetheart and future wife, Ellen Daly. Jim graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1989, earning a B.A. in Psychology, and later his Master’s in Education in 1993. Jim and Ellen married on August 12, 1994. 

Jim grew up on Lake Fenton, the youngest of five brothers and a sister. In the summers you could find him sailing, windsurfing, and waterskiing. He was a proud member of Team Perry, competitively racing Hobie Cats on the Great Lakes and elsewhere with his family. Winters were spent downhill skiing at Mt. Holly, Boyne Mountain and many trips to the Rockies. Jim also loved tinkering in their barn, fully equipped with every tool imaginable. He spent countless hours there, often with his dad, learning how things work … taking apart a motorcycle or car engine, fixing their tractor or tuning skis. 

Jim and Ellen settled in Ann Arbor after they married in 1994, and had their daughter, Mazey, in 2002. Nothing in his life compared to Jim’s love of being a father to Mazey. As a family they enjoyed time with close friends and family, near and far. Vacations were spent skiing in Big Sky and Breckenridge, but northern Michigan was their most frequented happy place, skiing at Boyne Mountain and summer months in the Leelanau Peninsula. One of Jim and Ellen’s lifelong dreams was to have a cottage there. That came to fruition in the summer of 2020 when they found their little gem sitting high on a bluff of Lake Michigan in Leland. They cherished their time there for Jim’s last 18 months of life.

During his free time, Jim enjoyed various hobbies and activities … from running, mountain biking and camping, riding his motorcycle, to baking bread and listening to or seeing live music—classic jazz, Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead were among his favorites. He practiced yoga and meditation with a constant thirst for spiritual seeking and self-discovery. He took genuine interest and was up for pretty much anything that Mazey was into, including being her favorite playmate with her Groovy Girl dolls, creating elaborate storylines and being in full character when she was young. His love of sailing evolved into a passion for kiteboarding, which he learned at age 47 through his nephew Matt. He became part of a wonderful kiteboarding community in Traverse City and traveled to the Outer Banks multiple times in search of the best wind conditions one could find. 

Jim was a car enthusiast starting with his first, an Audi Fox, inherited from his Aunt Esther. He was known for the ever-changing vehicles in their driveway … owning over 50 cars (mostly Saabs and Audis) in his 39 years of driving. He had an uncanny ability for buying a used car, enjoying it for a time, and then selling it for a profit.

Jim enjoyed a successful 26-year career in Education. First as a high school teacher and then as a principal at Livingston Technical Academy (which became Kensington Woods High School) in Howell. Jim was an original partner of C.S. Partners in 2004 and served their schools in many capacities, most recently as Director of School Leadership. Passionate about experiential learning, Jim was a founding leader of Flex Tech High Schools in Brighton and Novi, and founded Flex Tech Education, a professional development organization. 

Jim was humble, unselfish, friendly, caring, curious, intellectual, adventurous, courageous, and passionate, all rolled up inside a wonderful sense of humor and a disarming smile. Jim leaves behind his legacy of cherished memories with his family and many friends.

Jim is survived by his beloved wife, Ellen, and their daughter, Mazey; his father, Richard Perry, and his wife Karin; sister Nancy Perry; sister-in-law Kristy Perry; brothers Tim Perry and John Perry; mother-in-law Margaret Daly; brothers and sisters-in-law: Chris Daly, Rick & Mary Daly, Laurie & David Smith, Julie & Michael Cenit, Rob & Nancy (Melet) Daly. 

He will live on in the hearts of his nieces and nephews: Matt, Tara, Amara, Sol, Taj, Sara, Nick, Patricia, Shanna, Carly, Lauren, Ben, Christopher, Sydney, Kyle, Brooklyn, Bryce, and Gillian. 

Jim was preceded in death by his mother, Patricia Perry (Rasak) and his brothers Mark, Phillip, and Tom Perry.

A private celebration of Jim’s life will be held in the coming weeks. 

Contributions in Jim’s memory may be made to Food Gatherers. 


Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at muehligannarbor.com for the Perry family.