Bill Perry (left) and wife Cathy with Kyle Petty at the 2008 SEMA Washington Rally.
Bill Perry, president of Bill Perry & Associates and SEMA Board member, died Monday, February 2, after a long fight with leukemia.
"Our good friend and colleague, Bill Perry, lost his courageous battle with a rare form of leukemia," said SEMA Chairman Jim Cozzie and SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting in a joint statement. "Our hearts and prayers go out to Cathy, Chris, Michael and Amelia, and the entire Perry family in this difficult time. Simply put, Bill was one of the good guys, the person one could go to in confidence, to share an idea or to seek ideas that made things better. His honor and integrity will stand the test of time."
Perry was an active leader within SEMA and the industry. A SEMA member since 1977, Perry was elected to the SEMA Board of Directors three times, was a member of the Board's Executive Committee, and served on the Manufacturer's Rep Council (MRC) Select Committee for several years. He won the 2008 MRC Hall of Fame Award at the SEMA Show. His firm has also won SEMA Manufacturers' Rep of the Year honors.
"Bill was a mentor to me in so many ways, both personally and professionally," says MRC Select Committee Chairman Joel Rosenthal of Gantt-Thomas & Associates. "It has been a true blessing to work with him over the years, and his legacy of professionalism, enthusiasm, and kindheartedness will live on through his family and the people that he touched. His work on the SEMA MRC and then as MRC liaison to the Board of Directors has resulted in a segment that has raised the bar in many ways. If I was a betting man, I'd say that all in heaven are getting a lesson on gaining horsepower and being a gentleman."
Beginning his career at a local speed shop in Carrollton, Georgia, while attending the University of West Georgia, Perry joined the ranks of manufacturers' reps with Quality Parts Sales Inc. in 1980. In 1985, he purchased the agency and renamed it Bill Perry & Associates (BP&A). BP&A covers markets in eight southeastern states, including Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia.
Perry was also a member of the Light-Truck Accessory Alliance (TORA). TORA Select Committee Chairman Ron DiVincenzo, general manager of CapWorld, says he will always remember Perry's accessibility.
"He always had time for you and was willing to listen. He would be running from one meeting to another or be out with his wife, but he always wanted to hear what was up with the council and what our opinions were. Bill was a great leader and a role model for us all."
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the National Marrow Donor Program (www.marrow.org) or to the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, 1552 Shoup Ct., Decatur, Georgia, 30033. Call 404/327-9700 for further details. Note: all monetary contributions are sent to the American Cancer Society; Emory Hope Lodge can only accept Walmart gift cards.