Priscilla Perry, a social activist and University of Miami scholar who later worked as a lobbyist for the company that built Metromover, died of complications of Parkinson’s disease Thanksgiving day at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables. She was 80.
During her six decades in South Florida, where her family moved when she was in high school, Perry worked as an Anti-Defamation League activist, became an administrator with the University of Miami’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies, created the university’s Institute for the Study of Aging and founded a magazine chronicling urban struggles.
Later, in a second career — or perhaps third or fourth — Perry became a Miami and Washington lobbyist.
“She was an outspoken and active woman who was a force,” said Larry Jinks, The Miami Herald’s managing editor and executive editor from 1966 to 1976. “She was close to a number of political figures in the community and she liked to see results.”
Born Priscilla Rosenfeld on July 2, 1932, in Brockton, Mass., Perry quickly became involved in politics when her family moved to South Florida. But she took a break from professional life to focus on her family after she married Judge Morton Perry in 1958 and the couple had two children.
Perry went to school at the University of Miami during that time and earned a master’s degree specializing in urban studies.
She returned to professional life reinvigorated, and by 1973 had become a university administrator and founded the League of Working Mothers to fight for women in the workplace.
“She was just light years ahead of her time,” said daughter Pam Perry. “She did and thought of things women never did.”
In 1973, Priscilla Perry told The Miami Herald that part of why she became vocal about social issues despite her small-town upbringing was she knew Miami “was a place open to different views. I seemed to know intuitively that I could think differently here.”
By 1975 she had founded the University of Miami Institute for the Study of Aging. She was also the founding editor of Miami Interaction magazine.
By the 1980s, Perry was married to the late University of Miami professor Eugene Mann and became a lobbyist. One of her clients was Westinghouse, the company that built downtown Miami’s people mover.
In addition to her daughter, Perry is survived by her son Aaron Perry and three grandchildren.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Riverside Gordon Memorial Chapels at Mount Nebo in Kendall, 5900 SW 77th Ave..
Instead of flowers, donations should be made to the National Parkinson Foundation.