Perry Mallette obituary (2021) – Madison Heights, MI
Madison Heights – PERRY MALLETTE, OUTSTANDING TEACHER, COMMUNITY THEATER / ACTOR / DIRECTOR, DIES
Perry Arthur Mallette was born on Christmas Eve 1931 in his maternal grandparents’ home in Clymer, Pennsylvania. After his baptism a month later, Perry traveled with his mother to their home in Detroit. Perry grew up in Detroit and Redford Township, and graduated from Redford Union High School in 1950. Later that year he left with a friend to seek his fortune in California. Not finding the streets paved with gold, nor finding suitable employment, Perry enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. After basic training in San Diego, he was sent to Korea. On July 6, 1952, Perry’s platoon attempted to capture a strategic hill under intense fire. Perry was seriously wounded but continued to attack the enemy until he was forced to evacuate. Due to his courage, fighting spirit, and fatal injuries, Perry was awarded the Navy Cross and a Purple Heart. Perry was honorably released in 1954, having attained the rank of sergeant. Perry returned to Detroit to attend Wayne State University where he earned a high school education degree (on the GI Bill). While at Wayne State, Perry joined the Men’s Glee Club and toured Europe in the summer of 1957, performing in many cities and on US military bases in England, Ireland and Germany. Perry began his teaching career in 1958, working for Utica Community Schools, the Lafayette Clinic and the Macomb Middle District before retiring in 1994. Perry returned to Wayne State in the 1960s to obtain a degree in special education and again in the 1970s to study theater. direction. In December 1957, Perry married Shirley Fetters, who was also a student at Wayne State. Together, they raised four daughters. They divorced in 1974. Twenty years later, Perry married Claudia (Habalewsky) Reid and the same year he began his retirement. The couple lived in Detroit, St. Helen, Hamtramck and, in recent years, Madison Heights, Michigan. In 1963, the acting bug bit Perry, and he began performing in community theater productions with many theater companies, including Utica Players, Playhouse Clinton of Mount Clemens, Rochester Players, and Avon Players. He has also performed at the Henry Ford Museum Theater, Ann Arbor Civic Theater, Bonstelle, and the University of Detroit Mercy. During the summers of 1965 and 1966, Perry performed professionally in five productions at the Barn Theater in Augusta, Michigan. In the mid-1960s, Perry began directing and acting. In 1980, Perry bought a 3 story Victorian home on Trumbull Avenue in Detroit. This house included an adjoining shed which he renovated. Perry built a stage and two of his friends set up toilets in the shed. It took four years of hard work and in 1984 the shed became the Trumbull Theater. Between 1984 and 1993, Perry produced, directed and performed in over 20 shows. Also, during the 1980s, Perry appeared in 3 films: “Going Back” with Bruce Campbell, “Thou Shalt Not Kill… Except” with Sam Raimi and “Broken Hearts and Noses” with Louise Lasser. Perry sold the Trumbull Avenue property in 1993 and retired from theatrical work. But theater was still in his blood, so in 1999 Perry, Claudia and Dr. David McSwain, MD formed a theater group called “Dr. David’s Traveling Medicine Show”. Between 1999 and 2001, this group rented the old Trumbull Theater and put on 5 wonderful shows including the Trumbull Christmas classic “My Three Angels” (twice). Dr McSwain died suddenly in 2001, putting an end to this theater company. Perry’s last theatrical appearance was in the play “Race” at the University of Detroit Mercy’s Theater Company in the fall of 2001. Perry was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2004. He battled the disease valiantly until his death on June 1. He will be deeply missed by family and friends. Perry is survived by his devoted and caring wife, Claudia Mallette, his daughters: Karla Mallette, Sara Meingast (Herbert), Tia Mallette (Carl Spitzer), Nina Mallette; his grandchildren: Evangeline Mallette, Alex Meingast, Claire Meingast, Theo Meingast, Ramona Blanco and Veronica Blanco. He is also survived by Claudia’s children: Julian Reid, Jessica Felts (Robert), Bronwyn Polachowski (Ryan) and Claudia’s grandchildren: Aurora Reid, Katherine Reuther (Kyle), Robert Felts Jr., Timothy Felts and Elliana Polachowski. Other survivors include nephew Ian Tetz, brother-in-law Martin Habalewsky (Ruth), as well as nephews Paul Habalewsky (Erin) and Justin Habalewsky. Perry was predeceased by his father A. Orville Mallette, mother Ann Lawrence, stepfather Chester Lawrence, brother Gerald Mallette, sister Judith Tetz and granddaughter Shawn Mallette. The viewing will take place at the Guardian Angels Catholic Church, 581 E. Fourteen Mile Road, Clawson, Michigan at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 5 before the Christian Burial Mass at 11 a.m. A procession will follow to the Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Southfield, Michigan for internment. Family and friends are invited to reunite at the Mallette House in Madison Heights immediately afterward. Arranged by Edward Swanson and Son Funeral Home, Madison Heights, Michigan.
Published in The Detroit News & Detroit Free Press June 2-3, 2021.