The man who built Philadelphia – quietly

    I wanted to tell you about somebody today.

    He was the kind of guy more people should know about, especially folks who think everybody in government is corrupt, or lazy, or a cynical burnout holding on for a pension.

    I doubt you ever heard of Harry Perks, but he did great things for Philadelphia for decades and never wanted or got much credit for of it.

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    He was one of those public servants who does what he does because he loves and believes in it and understands that political b.s is part of the terrain to navigate to get things done, but doesn’t want to be a political player.

    Harry died yesterday at age 85.

    I wanted to tell you about Harry, but I can’t do better than I did in a Philadelphia Daily News column I wrote 16 years ago. When I told Harry I wanted to write about him then, his response was, “Can’t I talk you out of that crap?”

    He couldn’t, and today I’m glad he and his family got to see that tribute while he was alive and healthy. You can read it here at the top of a website his family set up. I’ll immodestly suggest it’s a decent read.

    There’s more in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s obituary by Susan Snyder, and the Daily News obituary by John Morrison.

    Harry is survived by four sons, H. Mark, Jr., S. Chris, Matthew, and Clark. His wife of 63 years, Gladys Middleton Perks, died in 2010.

    Family members say a memorial service will be arranged.

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