Honoring the Volunteer Service of
Dr. Roger H. Perry, Pediatrician
Dr. Roger Perry retired from the active practice of medicine in 1994, following a long and distinguished career. While a student at the University of Virginia (BA 1951; MD 1955), he was admitted into the prestigious Raven Society and a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. He completed both his internship and residency in Pediatrics at New York Hospital, Cornell University Medical Center in New York City.
During medical school, he signed up for the Berry Program. “You could sign up, and you were deferred until you finished your training,” Dr. Perry explains, “and then you’d go into one of the services for two years. That’s how I got into the Navy.” His service took him to the Submarine Base Hospital in Groton, Connecticut, where he practiced from 1958 to 1960.
Completing his Navy career, he moved to Ithaca, New York, where he started his private practice in 1960. He was on staff at Tompkins County Hospital, and served as President of the medical staff from 1980 to 1984. After thirty-four years of caring for the children in and around the community of Ithaca, he retired in 1994; and with his wife, moved to Newport News, so, he says, “We could be closer to our daughter and her family.”
After such a fulfilling career, many physicians are content to rest on well-deserved laurels, relaxing, enjoying leisure time with family and friends. Not so Dr. Perry: “I enjoyed my pediatric practice years,” he says, “and I didn’t want to give it up altogether. I figured volunteering would be a good way to keep active, but not be overwhelmed.”
Immediately after arriving in Newport News, Dr. Perry began asking around for opportunities. A neighbor told him about the Olde Towne Medical Center (there was no dental service at that time), and he arranged a meeting. “We had started out in 1993 just doing primary care,” says Dr. William J. Mann, Jr., the Center’s Executive Medical Director. “It had become obvious to us that we needed to offer pediatric care as well, just about the time Dr. Perry volunteered. It was heaven’s timing.”
It was also a match made in heaven, Dr. Mann continues. Williamsburg has a large community of un- and underserved families, headed by men and women who earn their living as seasonal employees at local hotels, restaurants, theme parks and historic attractions. From May to December, during the heaviest tourist season, these workers have hourly jobs that offer no benefits. From December to May, they’re often without employment altogether, and thus without options for medical care. The Olde Towne Medical and Dental Center, which has expanded to include a full range of medical services (including geriatrics and prenatal care), that fills the void for these hard working individuals, who often lack basic English skills. In fact, Dr. Perry says, “We have a Spanish interpreter at the clinic, and all of our brochures are English and Spanish.”
“When Dr. Perry is here, he lights up the hearts of staff, children and parents,” a staff members says, while another describes Dr. Perry as a “fountain of knowledge and compassion. Working with him is a continuing learning opportunity.”
For Dr. Perry, it’s the opportunity to see children grow and develop. “I’ve always enjoyed well baby and well child work, and helping them along in their years of growing,” he says. The Olde Towne Medical and Dental Center offers him plenty of opportunities to do just that.
So will this good deeds doctor retire? “I’ll be here as long as the clinic will put up with me,” he says. Adds Dr. Mann, “As long as he’ll come, he’s welcome.”