2017 Humanitarian Award- Dr. Michael Perry
The 2017 AAP Humanitarian Award is awarded posthumously to Dr. Michael Perry, an Oxford, Miss., periodontist who passed away on Aug. 14, 2016. Dr. Perry, who earned his Master of Science in Periodontics at Baylor College of Dentistry after graduating from the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry, opened his first periodontics office in 2002. The practice expanded to include four more locations throughout northern Mississippi and southern Tennessee.
“As his practice grew, he remembered to give back, providing periodontal and implant care at reduced or no cost for many patients who needed a break,” says Dr. Perry’s longtime mentor and friend Dr. Francis Serio, recipient of the 2004 AAP Humanitarian Award. “One story spoke of his many kindnesses for a widow with nine children, creating Christmas for them when it would otherwise have not been possible.”
Dr. Perry’s benevolence extended into the community when he invested millions into the 2013 construction of the Oxford-Lafayette Sportsplex, a 73-acre athletic complex complete with baseball, softball, football, and lacrosse fields. “He told me more than once that it did not matter whether he made a dime from this endeavor because it was the right thing to do for the kids of the Oxford area,” Dr. Serio says.
Dr. Perry was also a three-time participant of the Dominican Dental Mission Project, which was created by Dr. Serio and has provided more than $15 million in dental treatment to underserved patients in the Dominican Republic since 1983. On Dr. Perry’s final trips with the project in 2015 and 2016, he brought along his two eldest children instilling within them the importance of giving back. “Sarah and John West were able to show the kids how to brush their teeth, hand out toothbrushes, and were able to interact with the kids by playing baseball and other games,” Dr. Perry told a Mississippi newspaper shortly after returning from the 10-day mission in 2015. That year, the Dominican Dental Mission Project provided nearly $400,000 in preventative dental care, extractions, and dentures to locals.
Dr. Perry, his wife Kim (a nurse practitioner at the University of Mississippi Health Center), and two other Oxford couples perished in a plane crash as they were returning home from a dental event in Florida last year. In addition to Sarah and John West, now 14 and 13 respectively, the Perrys are survived by eight-year-old daughter Anna Reed.
“This is a great loss in so many ways,” Dr. Serio says. “Remember Michael as a great periodontist, not because of what he contributed to the literature, but because of what he contributed to humanity.”