A 9/11 Hero Recalled at Reunion Time

May 02, 2018
Supplied Photo Mary Perrin

Alongside the laughter at high school reunions are the quiet tears for the ones not with us. A few classmates are doing something special in tribute to a hero of the 9/11 tragedy as the 40th reunion of the Southern Regional High School Class of ’78 approaches.

Mary Perrin is being remembered by friends in honor of her work in medical science research that helped New York City understand the impacts on the search and recovery teams after the 9/11 attacks. Heartfelt response to a Go Fund Me page set up by classmates has enabled two $1,000 scholarships in her name, and friends are finding interest in raising more. The Mary Perrin Memorial Scholarship is growing.

This is Perrin’s story:

“On 9/11, Mary was studying for her PhD at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health while working at the downtown office of the NY Department of Health. She helped evacuate her office as the World Trade Center 2 got hit. She and her colleagues were among the thousands running uptown. Then Mary went back. She worked at Ground Zero for 72 hours straight and for many weeks thereafter,” said SRHS classmate Nora DePalma, to whom Perrin had told her story.

“When her cough started during the winter of 2016, she told her sister she knew it was lung cancer. Her sister told her not to worry. But Mary knew better. Through her work with the NY Department of Health post 9/11, she liaised with federal, state and local agencies concerning possible health effects of pesticide, heavy metal exposure and air pollution for emergency workers and residents during recovery and clean-up effort.

“She turned out to be correct. She was given about year at the time of her diagnosis, but she died in under six months.

“Her oncologists would tell her that her diagnosis and her work on 9/11 would almost certainly qualify for 9/11 first responders relief. She wouldn’t apply. She was still serving those NYPD and NYFD first responders.”

The Mary Perrin Memorial Scholarship Committee is comprised of classmates Nora DePalma, Lynda (DiPaolo) Roots, Jill Svelling Beloff and Erik Stromborn. Mary’s sister Teresa (class of ’76)  is working with them.

As of the first week of May, at least two $1,000 awards will be given, thanks to money raised through the Go Fund Me page titled Mary Perrin Memorial Scholarship. Classmates, family and Perrin’s New York co-workers are among donors. The scholarships are being awarded to Southern Regional High School seniors who have demonstrated aptitude in math and/or science and who have also contributed to their communities through service.

“June 2018 is the 40th anniversary of Mary's graduation from Southern Regional High School. A few of her friends from the class of ’78 thought this was the best way to honor her memory as a giving person, and wonderful and witty friend, and of course, her selfless service to the 9/11 responders,” said the committee.

— Maria Scandale


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