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Pastor celebrates 50th year of ordination

June 27, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE
  • Pastor Tom Perry scratches his head as he looks over the people gathered at St Mark's Lutheran Church that surprised him with a celebration for his 50 years as pastor.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer,

HAGERSTOWN -- A crazy, wonderful, loving, ethical, happy, go-lucky bicycle rider on the C&O Canal who has a quirky sense of humor and is comfortable like an old shoe was honored Sunday during a surprise party at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Hagerstown.

Pastor Tom Perry even commented on his old shoes shortly after walking through the doors to his party.

Expecting to attend a community awareness meeting, Perry looked down at his worn black shoes and said, "I didn't even put my decent shoes on."

The party was organized by the West End church's Friendship Committee and other church members to celebrate the 50th year of Perry's ordination.

Perry was interim pastor at St. Mark's from 1995 to 1996, serving after Pastor A. Bernard Coates and before Pastor Dave Kaplan, said Perry's wife, Linda. Tom Perry was visitation pastor for St. Mark's from 1998 to 2008, she said. He continues to be a member of the church and volunteers with various activities.

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About 115 guests at the party donated more than $1,400 to Mar-Lu-Ridge, a Lutheran church camp in Frederick County, Md., in honor of Perry's 50th year of ordination, said Leigh Kees, one of the organizers for the reception.

Perry said his wife had told him that after the committee meeting, they would go to Roy Rogers for beef sandwiches.

Instead, he dined on fried chicken and macaroni and cheese in between chatting with family and friends. He took a slow, winding path between the tables from the buffet to his seat, stopping to ask how people were doing.

Told how people described him, Perry said, "I feel good about that."

"He is a gentle, loving, kind person with a quirky sense of humor who loves people," Pastor Dave Kaplan said.

"He's a crazy guy, but I think he's a wonderful, loving guy," Interim Pastor Quentin Fleming said. Perry also has a habit of leaving things behind, Fleming said.

Perry said there's more to life than keeping track of everything, so he often leaves things behind, such as hats.

Perry said he doesn't use the "R" word --retired.

He's too busy riding his bike on the C&O Canal, volunteering at Washington County Hospital, helping the Hagerstown Lions Club, returning to Hagerstown Community College last year to teach German, and playing organ at various churches.

"Happy, go-lucky bicycle rider on the C&O Canal" was how parishioner Charlie Mundey, 78, described Perry.

Perry said he "only" biked about 1,700 miles last year because the snowy winter cut into his biking time.

"He's like an old shoe," said Judy Mundey, a member of the Friendship Committee.

"Comfortable like an old shoe. He even wears old shoes," Fleming said.

Mary J. Hureanis Dellatoffalo, 83, who lives near Smithsburg, said she's proud to know Perry.

"He has a special place in my heart. ... I feel certain others feel that way," she said.

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