Two years ago, Bill Perry celebrated his 100th birthday when he was only 98 because he was afraid he wouldn’t make it to his big centennial. He held a memorial service spoofing his life — and to give himself a chance to hear the nice things that people say about you when you die.
But now that he’s reached triple digits, Perry thinks turning 100 should be worth more than the usual cake and lei. He wants partygoers to donate $100 to the new Perry Environmental Fund at the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu, where he’s been an active church member since the 1960s. His birthday bash starts at 6 p.m. at 2500 Pali Highway, and everyone is welcome to join the potluck.
For entertainment, Perry will star in a comedy he wrote as a sequel to Act 1 of his 2008 program, said party organizer Sue Yamane-Carpenter. Tonight’s Act 2 will be "based on serious religious questions that Bill pondered as a youth," the church newsletter said.
At his 2008 party, "They carried him in in a coffin, then he sat up in the coffin and talked to an angel with a broken wing. He had written a dialogue. This guy is a scream!" Yamane-Carpenter said.
Perry, who was born on July 5, 1910, in Soldier, Idaho, said, "The church needs money and is anxious to be on the green side of the environmental problem. … A member of this church suggested that we use my 100th-birthday party as an excuse to raise money. I liked the idea, and here is my $100 check to start the fund.
"I’m anxious to protect the planet so my kids, grandkids and great-grandkids have a chance," said Perry, who has two children by his late wife, Pat.
"A lot of people are impressed when you get to be my age, but all you gotta do is continue to breathe. Hell, I don’t have any secret (to longevity). I drink good whiskey; I don’t drink cheap whiskey. I never did anything healthy. I planned to start exercising at one time, but I never got around to it. … At times I wonder, does anybody know what it’s all about?"
Molly Rowland, a member since the 1960s and editor of the church newsletter, said, "He has always been there when you need him.
"For a long time he was parking czar, and he took it very seriously. He drew maps, trained his volunteers and painted white lines on rock walls to make sure everyone parked straight. Every Sunday after the sermon, we always have a discussion, and he would always manage to relate everything to the importance of parking correctly. Bill made sure we followed the rules, and it got to be funny.
"He is also proud of his community volunteer work, teaching swimming and helping the National Multiple Sclerosis Society because his daughter has MS."
Correction: The party for Bill Perry is Saturday, July 24. An earlier version of this story said the party was this evening.