1981 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Life can be a bowl of cherries or it can be a humdrum existence. I'm a can-doer, rather than a can't-doer."
Russell Perry and his three brothers were born in the farm town of Cornell, Illinois. At age 15, he moved with his family to Chicago. After his older brother died, his father left the family, leaving Perry to support his mother and two younger brothers. He attended two years of high school after which he went to work as an office boy in an insurance company. He later took college courses at night. In 1932, he began working for Republic Insurance. Republic transferred him to their New York office as an underwriter. In New York City, Perry applied to law school but was informed that his Illinois credits were not acceptable. He enrolled at New York University to obtain credits, and was then accepted at Brooklyn Law School. He continued to advance his career at the insurance company and passed the bar exam in 1940. In 1959, Republic named Perry executive vice president, and a year later he was appointed president and CEO. In 1972, he became chairman of the board. He later served as director of the American Cancer Society at the national, state, and local levels.* Deceased