Michael George Perryman, 74, of Prairie Village, Kansas, went with God peacefully and embraced by the love of family Saturday afternoon at Villa Saint Francis in Olathe, Kansas. For those who wish to celebrate Mike’s life, services will be held on Saturday, February 3 as follows: Rosary at 9:00a followed by a 9:30 funeral Mass at St. Ann Catholic Church, 7231 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS. Burial at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Lenexa, KS at 11:15 followed by a noon reception at St. Ann Catholic Church.
He also is survived by 19 beautiful grandchildren: Bailey, Mallory, Sarah, Sophia, Thomas, and Maureen Wetta, Kansas; Brianna Hays, Florida; Garrett, Keenan, and Reilley Hays, Michigan; Jeffrey Neal, Allison and Daniel Dorsey, Kansas; Annie and Joseph Perryman, Kansas; Donald, Payton, and Carmella Neal, Kentucky; and Olivia Perryman, Kansas, as well as three great grandchildren: Carter, Liam and Desmond Shirley, Kansas. He is survived by, among others, his cousin and boyhood friend Patrick Lynch, Kansas. He is preceded by his mother, Theresa (Murphy) Perryman, and father, J. Bernard Perryman.
Mike was born May 22, 1943, in Kansas City, Mo. As a young lad, prior to entering seminary studies at St. John’s and service with the US NAVY, he walked the wide banks of the Little Blue River, behind a modest farmhouse in Grandview, Mo, searching for points and arrowheads. He glowed with carefree optimism, tapping his hands on the sides of his legs in a rhythm syncopating his stride. He shared this rhythm and time throughout his life as accomplished musician, stoic friend and confidant, and perhaps most evident, as larger-than-life husband and father. It metered his genuine character and wit, and made him a man you’d smother with your nearness, if only there were sufficient time and space.
It carried him, in the fall of 1961, after foregoing the priesthood and following the whimsical lead of his friend, Luigi, to voluntarily enlist in the US NAVY (only later did he discover that Luigi never made it on the bus). After officially entering duty on September 8, the Navy enrolled his aptitude in linguistics. He attended the US Army’s Vietnamese Language School from January 29 to May 11, 1962, and from May 18, 1962 to May 15, 1963. He became fluent; a Radio Intelligence Operator (a term he often regarded as loosely used). He landed at the US Naval Communication Station, Philippines, Phu Bai, South Vietnam, and served in communications capacity from June 4, 1963 to December 14, 1965. Mike met lifelong friends serving in the military. He officially discharged from duty September 7, 1967, with Honorable Character of Service, receiving: Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation, Gallantry Cross Medal Color With Palm, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation, Civil Action Medal, First Class Color With Palm, Navy Unit Commendation With Ribbon Bar. Also notable in Mike’s service record Personal Data is the reminder, along with height, weight, and eye color, of his Hair: “Color Brown.” He often alluded, after years took their toll on his crown extravagance that “Yes” would’ve sufficed for any past reference to his hair.
Also notable on Mike’s Enlisted Classification Record in 1961, are his own descriptions of leisure time activities (Training Police Dogs), talent for public entertainment (Plays Drums (By Ear) 15 yrs.), and highest position of leadership (Sports Editor HS). Following WWII, back at the farm, his father trained German Shepherds for police work and for show. Mike loved the process and the time alone with his father, who was fighting in Bastogne in 1944 when Mike was less than two years old.
Mike’s affinity for music largely defined him before, during, and after he transitioned out of the service. Back stateside, working during the day as an apprentice at his grandfather’s plumbing shop in downtown Kansas City, Mo, he spent the night hours carrying and playing the drums anywhere he could find a gig. Even after he finished his subsequent journeyman time, and later still after completing long foreman shifts installing commercial plumbing infrastructure throughout the downtown area during the day, he continued playing at night, honing his craft.
Eventually, he found regular work performing during the day with the Red Onion Jazz Babies Dixieland Band. They played all over Kansas City, including regularly at Worlds of Fun and Kauffman Stadium. Soon, he joined the Steve Miller Orchestra, playing every venue and club Kansas City had to offer. He often was referred to, affectionately, as a “monster” on the drums, as he played with such emotion, passion, and forte. He recorded with the Steve Miller K.C. Big Band on the 1983 album “The Swinging ‘Kansas City Sound.’” Dick Wright’s liner notes point to Mike, specifically, for his touch on “Shiny Stockings.”
The Steve Miller Orchestra, which routinely performed during the tea dances at the Hyatt Regency Kansas City, played the evening of July 17, 1981, as the walkway collapsed. Mike was playing the drums that night atop the bandstand. Alongside his father, who regularly attended the tea dances to watch his son play, Mike jumped in to assist the injured and emergency first responders immediately following the disaster. For years following, he was deeply affected, as were many, by the chaotic, incomprehensible tragedy.
Ever the committed and consummate musician, Mike tapped his foot and played. He picked up and taught himself, by ear, to play several instruments throughout the years following the Hyatt tragedy. All this while working day and night to help raise a growing family. He still played music at night, but began regular daytime employment with Bishop Miege High School in 1984, positively interacting and influencing the lives of many students and staff. Mike and Sharron sent all eight children through St. Ann Catholic School and through Bishop Miege High School. He retired from Bishop Miege in 2008, but continued playing in smaller bands throughout Kansas City for the next couple of years. His retirement activities, however brief, were filled with love and support.
Mike left behind countless gifts, not least of which being his love of storytelling. He rarely if ever declined the pleas of sons and daughters soliciting bedtime stories (Adventures of Grok and Ignok, Jungle Frank Buck and His Trusty Sidekick Mboto, and Emma and Hatti, among some favorites), and he never left the room without the closing bedtime prayer (Oh, Angel of God, My Guardian Dear, To Whom God’s Love, Commits Me Here, ‘Ever This Day, Be At My Side, To Light, To Guard, To Rule and Guide, Amen. Dear God, Please bless Marlo, Colleen, Kathryn, Emily, Michael, Mosey Posey, Seancer Boncer, Jimmy Wimmy. Please bless Grandma Perryman, Grandma and Grandpa Kasten, Grandpa Jorgenson, Grandpa and Wanda, Aunt Luz and Uncle Bill, Cousin Pat, and all of our family who we love here and in heaven (Now, no more fooling around. Close your eyes and get to sleep…I mean it!). Then came his scheduled retreat to the bathroom to read before bed.
As forever, Mike’s greatest friend is his wife, and he is revered by his children. Through life’s difficulties and delights, he carried with him a song, and it sang through him. The rhythm and time he carried as a child, ever he carried in his heart and even still at his passing. With God and those he loves so dearly, he awaits us, a hopeful boy striding along the Little Blue, at peace and free.
In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested donations be made in Mike’s memory to Villa Saint Francis, 16600 W 126th St, Olathe, KS 66062.