In memory of
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In memory of
Venkatesan Swaminatha Perry PRINCETON Venkatesan Swaminatha Perry died peacefully in his sleep at his longtime home in Princeton on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. He was an accomplished researcher and scientist, a devoted and loving family man, and a kind and generous friend to the many people whose lives he touched. His ebullient personality drew out the best qualities of each person he met. He was 84 and lived a rich and varied life. As a young man, Dr. Perry went from studying by kerosene lamp while growing up as a teenager in rural India to helping develop the fuel-cell system that put the first man on the moon while he was also working on his doctorate at Columbia University. Born in Govindarajapuram, a small village in Palghat, India, on April 28, 1932, he was the first child of Swaminathan and Thangammal Peruvemba. From humble beginnings in Palghat, he studied in the small local public schools and graduated with a bachelor of physics in 1952 from the Government Victoria College. Over the next four years, he completed his bachelor of engineering in metallurgy at Banaras Hindu University, where he was awarded a Gold Medal for outstanding academic achievement. He also played soccer and cricket while in school. After graduating from Banaras, he worked for a year for Hindustan Steel in Rourkela, India, and was then sent to U.S. Steel in Pittsburgh for training. Fascinated by the opportunities in the United States, he decided to stay. He continued his education, earning a master's from New York University and a Ph.D. from Columbia. Dr. Perry held several research and scientist roles over the years at Western Electric, General Cable and Bell Communications Research. He was a pioneer in optical fiber and fuel cell technologies, with several patents to his credit. He was also an avid skier and tennis player, and his infectious enthusiasm for both activities helped introduce many others to his two favorite sports. Family was extremely important to Dr. Perry and he was very generous in helping his relatives both in the U.S. and India. He was instrumental in bringing his three brothers to the U.S. and getting them settled in their lives. He was truly a friend to his siblings and a father figure to their children. His brothers, Seshan and his wife, Lalitha, Balu and his wife, Radha, and Natarajan and his wife, Sudha, all live in the U.S. His only sister, Kamakshi, passed away in 2014. In 1991, after a lengthy and romantic courtship, he married Elizabeth Stuyvesant Pyne in a ceremony on the island of Kauai surrounded by family. They were steadfast bridge partners and great friends, and enjoyed traveling together, with India and Brazil being two of their favorite destinations. Dr. Perry was much loved by his wife's three sons, Russell, Lawrence and John, to whom he quickly became a trusted friend and father figure. His stepsons will never forget how "P.V.", as they called him as young boys, could seamlessly transition from a fellow backyard Wiffle Ball fanatic to a skilled teacher helping them master their nightly studies, particularly in math and the sciences. When his three stepsons started raising families of their own, Dr. Perry embraced the role of grandfather and was adored by his 10 grandchildren. He was a devoted husband who lovingly cared for his wife in her later years. Mrs. Perry passed away at their home in 2015, with Dr. Perry by her side. He is survived by his three brothers and their families and his three stepsons and their families. A celebration of Dr. Perry's life will be held in the coming months in Princeton. His ashes will be scattered at his Princeton home, at his wife's ancestral churchyard in Garrison, NY, and in the Ganges River in India. Arrangements are under the direction of the Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton. Mather-Hodge Funeral Home 40 Vandeventer Avenue Princeton, NJ 08542 (609) 924-0242
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