Mickey Perry named 2013 Progressive Citizen of the Year
Randy Cowling Editor
Veteran law officer, community ambassador and current Claremore Mayor Mickey Perry has been named 2013 Claremore Daily Progress Progressive Citizen of the Year.
Perry served 41 years in law enforcement and retired in 2010 as the city’s police chief.
He holds the distinction of serving under eight mayors and every city manager employed in Claremore. Forty years ago Perry was elected as a freeholder to help write Claremore’s City Charter. Now he leads the city as mayor.
Claremore City Manager Jim Thomas wrote in his nomination letter:
“It is my pleasure to nominate a distinguished man who has given a lifetime of public service to the citizens of Rogers County and the City of Claremore. He has extended a hand of friendship and support to me and the challenges of my office. I have designated him as a ‘special envoy’ for the office of the City Manager and he has accepted the assignment with honor.
“Upon my arrival in Claremore on November 25, 2012, Mickey greeted me a mere hour after I ended my 1,500 mile journey, pulling 4,000 pounds of personal goods. He came to help unload my truck and trailer on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Mayor Perry did not stop his ‘welcome attitude’ with that.
“Mayor Perry has embraced the kind of positive thinking that will allow the city to achieve goals worthy of its citizens. He has recognized the art of compromise, which benefits the greatest number of citizens, not just the ‘one,’ Thomas wrote. “His progressive leadership style covers more than 40 years of law enforcement experience with his last assignment being Chief of Police. He currently serves as the city’s chief political leader.”
Among the many hats Perry has worn over the years, he has also given his time to a host of community organizations.
One is the Share the Spirit Foundation, in which Perry has been involved for nearly 25 years. He is currently serving as president of the organization.
“I’ve delivered the baskets to residents and helped distribute them at the distribution point,” he said in a 2012 Claremore Daily Progress story. “As I became more involved, I started coordinating the goods and getting them to the distribution site. I’ve seen it grow from one or two hundred (baskets) to the high of over 1,000 a couple of years ago.”
The program relies on an army of dedicated volunteers, many of whom have helped since the beginning.
“We have several generations of families that come out every year and look forward to it,” he said. “In my own family, my son-in-law helps and my grandsons help.”
Sheila Knight of the Claremore Daily Progress, who has served with Perry on the Share the Spirit Foundation, has seen his commitment and passion for helping families in need.
“Mickey Perry has worked tirelessly for the Share the Spirit Foundation since its inception in 1988. Currently serving four terms as president, each year he has organized the delivery of over 800 food baskets to Rogers County residents with the aid of many volunteers, as well as overseeing the fundraising for Send A Kid To Camp. More than 1,000 Rogers County children in need have been sent to camp as a direct result of Mickey’s efforts.”
Perry serves on a variety of community boards, including the William A. Barnes Advocacy Center, Tri-County CASA, Rogers County Youth Shelter, Emergency Service Board, 911 Santa, A Child Is Missing and Food 4 Kids.
Upon retiring as Claremore Police Chief, he said he was fortunate that his 41-year career was divided into segments — as a uniformed cop and investigator, then in narcotics and finally in administration — because it meant he never, ever got bored.
“Good people have made this job worthwhile,” he said.
One of the challenges of being in law enforcement is “remembering that even good people made mistakes. That doesn’t make them bad.”
“There are a lot more good people than bad ones” and he thinks that is especially true in Claremore.
Perry came to the city force in 1969 — a transitory time for law enforcement everywhere, including Claremore and Rogers County. The Vietnam War was still reality and “Miranda Rights” were new.
For 10 years, Perry worked the city beat.
One of his earliest experiences on the force came during the early 1970s.
As Perry told it, he was riding along on a disturbance call at a local residence. When he and the senior officer arrived on the scene, Perry said he was ordered to stay at the front of the house where he went about questioning the lady of house as to the exact nature of her call. In the meantime, the other officer made his way around to the back of the house. Perry said shortly thereafter he heard a shot. Perry hurried to assist only to discover the other officer had simply shot into the ground.
“I asked him what was going on, and he said, ‘I was shooting the demons.’
“And that’s how it was back then. Every once in a while we had to go out to the house and kill the demons,” Perry said.
Later in his career, Perry found himself dealing with demons of a more tangible sort.
“I left Claremore for a while to work undercover with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics,” Perry said, “traveling around the country and buying drugs.”
Perry worked with OBN from 1979 to 1990.
“It was a good job, but sometimes hard to explain to my daughter,” he said.
He and his wife, Kathy, have been married 43 yearss and have one daughter, Jennifer, who is married to Randy Lewis. Perry has four grandchildren — Kyla, Dillon, Tyler and Tanner.
The Perrys are members of Memorial Heights Baptist Church. When not serving others he enjoys watching sports on television and in person and having fun with his grandchildren.
He is a graduate of Foyil High School, Claremore Junior College (now Rogers State University) and Northeastern State University.