2021 Grand Marshal


Korean War veteran Gene Perye named Grand Marshal of 68th annual St. Clair Shores Memorial Parade

By Greta Guest Rubello

Gene Perye, 91, was looking forward to being the Grand Marshal of the 2020 St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade. And then the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

He found himself in the hospital and a rehabilitation facility for 31 days last spring after contracting the virus. The pandemic also canceled most public gatherings including the parade.

Both Perye and the parade are refreshed and ready to roll on May 30.

“Mr. Perye was named Grand Marshal of the 2020 SCS Memorial Day Parade and looked forward to it with great anticipation. When the event could not go forward as planned he was incredibly understanding, but the true delight came when the committee voted unanimously to have him fulfill his role as Grand Marshal in the 2021 parade. We’re so happy to be able to honor him as originally planned!” said Cheryl Furdos, parade chair.

And coincidentally, with the 68th annual parade heading down Jefferson Avenue from 9 Mile to 11 Mile this year, it will be on Perye’s preferred route – passing by his home and the site of fond memories of annual cookouts and picnics with neighbors while watching the parade from Jefferson and Ardmore Park. The parade alternates between Jefferson and Harper avenues.

“The first year they had it on Jefferson, me and my neighbors roped off the grass out here. We had coolers, food. It was like a block party,” Perye said. “I don’t like it on Harper. I like the parade on Jefferson.”

Perye was drafted for service in the Korean War in 1951, not long after graduating from Wilbur Wright High School and starting as a skilled trade apprentice at the Dodge Main plant in Hamtramck (now the site of General Motors’ Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly).

He served in the 8th Army 30th Battalion and was stationed north of Seoul. Before being drafted, he had served two years in the U.S. Marine Reserves. He’s a life member of the VFW Bruce Post.

He returned home in 1953, got married, and picked up his automotive work again at Dodge Main – this time as a manager instead of an apprentice. Eventually, he became the de-activation manager. “I closed the plant in 1980,” Perye said. “I was the last man out.”

He transferred to Jefferson Assembly and retired in 1988 from Chrysler as an engineering manager.

He and his late wife, Dolores Foster, raised two sons – Steven and David – in St. Clair Shores. Perye has been active in a range of clubs over the years including the Jefferson Yacht Club, Jefferson Masonic Lodge 553, the St. Clair Shores Hockey Association, Eagle Pointe Golf League, and the St. Clair Shores Carvers.

“Gene Perye is a great example of what makes St. Clair Shores a wonderful community. He served our country, and then came home, raised his family and served his community,” said St. Clair Shores Mayor Kip Walby. “I’m thrilled to honor Mr. Perye as Grand Marshal in our Memorial Day Parade.”