Remembering Mary Perham

Thursday, November 8, 2012



MILFORD – After an automobile accident in the 1950s that cost her a friend, Mary Perham had only a left arm but the word disabled was never mentioned in her home.

“There were no accommodations made, at her request,” her daughter Pam Graesser said. “Resilient was the word for her.”

Perham, 90, died on Oct. 26, at the Hillsboro House in Hillsboro, after several years of Alzheimer’s disease.

Perham was teaching in Hollis at the time of the accident, and afterward she was offered a job at Wilton Elementary School, a position she held for 25 years.

“She taught herself to write again, so that she could teach,” Graesser said. “She went to the school every day and practiced writing on the blackboard.”

Polly Brown of Lyndeborough was one of the teachers she worked with.

“She put a lot of effort into learning to write left handed,” Brown said. “And she wrote very well. She was a good friend and she did a good job.”

Peg McEntee, also of Lyndeborough added, “I just couldn’t get over how much she did after the accident. It was just amazing to everyone. She had a good sense of humor and was game for anything.”

In addition to Hollis and Wilton, she also taught in Brookline and for awhile in Amherst. She ended her career as a substitute teacher in Milford.

“She never forgot a student,” Graesser said. “She loved them all. I never heard her say a bad word about any of them.” She added, “But she was tough. She expected a lot of her students, but I think she gave back.”

Brown recalled how “excited she was when she heard some of her girls were being inducted into the National Honor Society.”

While Perham was dedicated to her teaching, her daughter said, “She was also dedicated to the American Legion Auxiliary.”

“She was outstanding in the Legion,” her close friend Barbara Medlyn said. “She always did everything that needed to be done.”

Perham was a past national vice president and member of the Ricciardi-Hartshorn Post Auxiliary in Milford.

“My parents lived and breathed the Legion. I think all of our vacations were to Legion conventions,” Gaesser said. “Both of my parents were dedicated.”

“We will certainly miss her,” Medlyn said. “She was one of our most faithful members. She was just an outstanding person, her life went on just like it had before.”

Her son, Ed Medlyn, said Perham was an inspiration to him.

“She was a great friend. We used to stop in and you’d see her out shoveling snow.” he said. “She worked every single penny sale for the Legion.”

Mary Perham was born in Columbia in 1922, a daughter of Donald and Marion Shoff. She was a graduate of Lyndon State Teachers College, Lyndon, Vt.

She was a long-time member of the United Methodist Church in Milford.

Her husband, Lester Perham, died in 1991.

“After my father died, she had to learn how to drive again,” Gaesser said. “We just held our breath and said, ‘Go for it.’ ”

In addition to Graesser and her husband Peter of Francestown, Perham is survived by two stepsons, four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

“She was very patriotic,” Barbara Medlyn said. “I think it was very fitting that the soloist at her funeral sang ‘God Bless America.’ ”

Arrangements were in charge of Smith and Heald Funeral Home in Milford. Memorials made be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675, or online at www.

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