Some might say Dr. George Perraud kept more pilots in the air than jet fuel.
Perraud, who died May 21 at 90, had such a passion for flying he devoted his life to the health and upkeep of pilots as an aviation doctor. He practiced aviation medicine for more than 50 years — even through his chemo treatments for bladder cancer — and didn’t miss a day with his patients until April when he fell and broke his hip, said son Bruce Perraud.
That love for flight began during World War II. Born in Boston and raised in Teaneck, N.J., Perraud and a buddy attended The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., for two years and he joined the Navy as a pilot.
“He said, ‘We’re doing the Navy because we want to fly.’ He always had a passion for flying,” Perraud said. Later, his father would own his own planes. “We had little airplanes and we’d fly from [North] Perry Airport [in Pembroke Pines] to Everglades City to get stone crabs and fly back.”
In 1951, Perraud graduated from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri and began his first practice in family medicine in New Port Richey where he met his wife, Lily.
The couple, who raised sons Bruce and the late Martin, moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1958 where he joined his brother Robert’s family practice. The brothers were two of the founders in 1966 of the former Doctors’ Hospital in Plantation, which would later be sold and closed. Perraud remained in the family practice for 33 years but never considered retirement.
Perraud would have plenty of patients to see. Commercial pilots are required to get checkups for vision, hearing, cardiovascular health and mental acuity every six months and over the years Perraud catered to countless aviators.
“He took his time with each pilot. Sometimes pilots would sit there for hours in the waiting room to talk to him. He worked up to the day he fractured his hip,” Perraud, who works in information technology, said.
Such dedication helped his son understand his father’s passion for medicine. “He showed me his love for people, his caring for his patients. Some of the fun times I remember was when he would take me to the hospital on his morning rounds and I got to be in the doctors’ lounge.”
But Perraud made time for family and play, his son said. “He refereed my sports, soccer and flag football. Even though he was a doctor he was involved. He had a love of outdoors. We always used to travel to Everglades City and do fishing and exploring and go camping. He showed us what it was like to rough it. Today’s version of roughing it is to go to the hotel and hoping they have cable. One year, we took a little Boston Whaler out and went through all the little rivers in Florida. That was fun.”
Perraud’s practice will continue in Fort Lauderdale, his son said. “We brought in another doctor with 30 years’ experience as a flight surgeon. So we are continuing the practice and the legacy.”
In addition to his wife, his son and brother and their wives, Perraud is survived by grandsons Kevin and Garrett. Services were held.