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Local family remembers son with APSU scholarship

Thomas Jacob (T.J.) Perry, the only son of Mark and Jackie Perry of Woodlawn, would have graduated from Northwest High School in May 2007.

Instead, the family accepted their sons diploma posthumouslybecause on April 2, 2007, he and two friends were killed in a tragic automobile accident. Perry was a passenger.

Holidays are especially difficult following the death of a loved one, but the Perry family decided to make the recent holiday as bright as possible by honoring their young sons life.
Thomas Jacob (T.J.) Perry, the only son of Mark and Jackie Perry of Woodlawn, would have graduated from Northwest High School in May 2007.

Instead, the family accepted their son's diploma posthumouslybecause on April 2, 2007, he and two friends were killed in a tragic automobile accident. Perry was a passenger.

Holidays are especially difficult following the death of a loved one, but the Perry family decided to make the recent holiday as bright as possible by honoring their young son's life.

With an initial gift of $25,000, they have established the Thomas Jacob Perry Memorial Scholarship at Austin Peay State University, and they plan to give to the scholarship each year on their son's birthday.

They are asking others to consider giving a tax-deductible gift to the scholarship.

The scholarship funds will be divided between the University's agriculture science department and athletics.

According to Mark Perry, his son not only played baseball and other sports, he loved watching APSU sports. That's why the family wants part of the endowed fund to be used to help fifth-year student-athletes. “T.J. attended all the Austin Peay basketball games with us,” Mark Perry says.

But why support the agriculture department? “Maybe other young people who enjoy the outdoors like T.J. did will use this scholarshipto become forest rangers or something similar,” Jackie Perry says. “T.J. loved being outdoorshunting, fishing, camping.

“The weekend before he was killed in the car accident, T.J. and a friend went camping with us at Piney. It was a great family weekendthe kind T.J. loved.”
Asked about her younger brother, Magan, 22, says, “Oh, I could write a book. We were best friends, very close. He had a huge, kind heart. Last Christmas, he decorated a large Christmas tree in the back of his truck and drove around like that. He just loved life.”

And according to his family, he never left the house without telling his parents he loved them. “He was a good country boy,” Mark Perry says. “He didn't have an enemy in the world.”

And, evidently, animals loved him, too. “A few days before he died, T.J. was out in the yard, making owl sounds,” his dad says. “And, you know, he had about 10 owls talking back to him. I've never seen anything like that.”

The family expressed deep appreciation to the Woodlawn and Clarksville communities for their outpouring of prayers and support during the past year.

And as the year moved to a close, the family decided to try to find peace with their son's death by honoring his memory with the establishment of the scholarship.

“If we can help one person fulfill their dreams of going to college, that is what T. J. would have wanted,” Jackie Perry says. -- Dennie B. Burke