Eugene V. Perrin, MD (1927 - 2011)

Professor, activist and family patriarch, died at age 84 in his native Detroit. He leaves his partner Linda L. Darga and is survived by his loving children Miriam Perrin-Nickels, (Douglas), Daniel (Suzanne), Adam (Alison) and Joshua (Cherine) Perrin; first wife Jane Perrin, MD. He will also be forever missed by his grandchildren Toria, Jessa, Benjamin, Rebecca, Gabriel and Brody Perrin. Eugene's mother Frances (Fannie) Levin and father Emanuel Paperno migrated from Kharkov, Ukraine in the early 20th century. Emanuel an engineer and attorney, changed their surname from Paperno to Perrin in the 1930s. Completing high school in 1944 age 16, Eugene served in the US Army 1944-45 excelling in Japanese language at Yale University. Graduated from Wayne State University 1949, U of M School of Medicine 1953, certified in anatomic pathology following residencies in Boston and NYC. In Pathology his roles were teaching, service, research at University of Cincinnati, Case Western Reserve, and Wayne State University. There he was Professor of Patholoy, adjunct professor o f Anthropology. Pioneered research on the placenta. Published widely in pediatric pathology and teratology; edited books in placental pathology, ethics. Founder of Society Pediatric Pathology, Charter Member Teratology Society. Though WWII veteran, he was an anti - war activist and local founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Member International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, the recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize 1985 ; Peace and Conflict studies Wayne State University, War Resisters League ; Medical Education Mission to USSR 1980s. Taught anthropology courses on subjects of aggression, substance abuse, alternative medicine. Environmental activist and teacher, environmental engineering, biology, medicine , clinical genetics; member International Joint Commission, Sierra Club, Audubon Society, E.Mich Environmental Action Counsel. Lifetime enjoyment of music , piano and vocal performing soloist and in the chorus, director Gilbert and Sullivan Society Cincinnati, choir director First Unitarian Church Detroit. Guided his children's Jewish education and family services, taught in Synagogues and Unitarian Churches, comparative views on health, God, survival. Deeply loved by friends and family, possessed of generosity, humor, kindness and integrity, and earned enduring respect from colleagues.
Tribute to Dr. Perrin by Dr. Cyril D'Cruz
Gene Perrin and Jay Bernstein were the two persons primarily responsible for the founding of the Pediatric Pathology Club which subsequently became the Society for Pediatric Pathology. Perhaps a fitting Memorial Tribute to Gene is this excerpt from the transcript of the occasion when Gene was awarded the Presidential award in 1988. The introduction by Jay Bernstein and the response by Gene Perrin capture the essence of both men and is a fitting Memorial Tribute to both Jay and Gene who passed away soon after each other.
Cyril D’Cruz, St Barnabas Medical Center, Livingston New Jersey
It is a very great pleasure for me to introduce Eugene Perrin, recipient of our Presidential Award in 1988. I have known Gene Perrin for more than 30 years—from the time that we were residents together at Boston's Children's Hospital. I met Gene late one night when, on returning from a long trip. I found him sleeping in my bed. He jumped to his feet, saluted, identified himself, and promptly went back to sleep. We had an unusual, sometimes exciting, often very funny year, and Gene could never understand why I decided to move to Detroit, whence he had only recently fled.
Gene telephoned me a few years later, when he was working at Cincinnati Children's and I was at Einstein College of Medicine, to say that we needed to start a society of pediatric pathologists. “But Gene," I said, “I don't even know who they are." "That's OK,'' he said, "I do.” Gene did indeed have a List, which he promptly sent to me. I mailed out letters and was astounded by what seemed like an overwhelming response; there were indeed other pediatric pathologists. The rest is recorded history-our first get-together, our first
Scientific meeting, the writing of a constitution and bylaws, and the formation of the Pediatric Pathology Club, eventually to become known as the Society for Pediatric Pathology. And so, on behalf of the Society, I present this award to my dear friend and long-time colleague, both of us now back in Detroit, Gene Perrin.
Jay Bernstein, MD
Response of Eugene V. D. Perrin, MD
So Jay and I got together to juxtapose crania over a cuppa hemlock and I said, “Jeezt," I said, or something to that effect, "I don't know much; it's cold out here at 18,519 feet; I'm tired of making up facts and paraphrasing tiny errors of development. Let's start a Landsmanschaft, a Gesellschaft, a Diet of like minds, a Thing, peering however dimly into the bone, brain, blood brawn and future of the unborn and recently arrived. Who else might care?” I said.
Jay said, "Perrin, you idiot," as he usually said, “how would I know?” “A man can try," I said. So we looked through old SPR/APS Programs, AAPB lists, sere and yellowing, and found names and a few current addresses. We sent out a famous questionnaire. We missed a number of worthies, whose egos were bruised, but in time all the children of Wollstein were gathered in.
Answers to the questionnaires were enlightening. Ben Landing wanted to make lists of the kinds of meetings and classify them; Blanc sought fine wine and lissome companions; George Fetterman cheered and called it "a bully idea"; Frank Sherman smiled quietly and disbelievingly; the ghost of Dorothy Andersen applauded, releasing a shower of cigarette ashes; Wolf Zuelzer asked, “How long have you had these delusions of grandeur?”; Sidney Farber, not quite sure who I was, said “My boy, do it for the future”; John Ichabod Craig scratched his left temple with his right hand, reaching around his back and enthused “Gee Whiz”; his colleague, Gordon Vawter, said the same, scratching his right temple with his left hand; Jim McAdams mumbled something furry and friendly; Doug Shanklin wanted to make a political party of it; Bob Szulman asked "But who will really benefit?”; Bob Bolande reminded us that he had already given at the office; Harvey Rosenberg rubbed his hands with Glee, a superior cleanser; Sam Creighton suggested gourmet feasts; Bill Newton saluted and gave us his blessing; Dan Stowens reminded us that he had already done “all those things”; and Shirley Kaufman serially sectioned the questionnaire. Dick Diamond urged, “Gently, Doctor, gently," and so we did it. We are still doing it. From a treasury operating from my back pocket, with deficits paid from my fun fund, and letters typed by me (at least that hasn't changed), we formed a Club, and now we have arrived at an intermediate destination, a Society, astonishingly professional, well organized, and prosperous. We are still seeking Board status. Jobs are not plentiful, we are not always recognized as sources of basic knowledge, our salaries are not predictably on par with the “adult” morbid anatomists, and we have not solved all the problems of training, especially in the area of clinical pathology and research. We lack minority members and have not always recognized our saints-Wyatt, Benirschke, Paige, and Wollstein, to mention some-but we are growing. So Jay and I turned to the issues and the challenges for a little while until they were taken over by younger and stronger officers. And we said, to the hope of our discipline, yes and we said yes, yes. (A Mrs. Marion Tweedy Bloom was among the first to ask for special consideration. We have given her special attention, but Dr. B. Boylan has recommended against membership.)
For the listener, I have some advice:
1. Don't take yourself too seriously.
2. Communicate.
3. Now that channeling (ancient presences speaking through the living and near-living) is popular, and channelers in 1988 seem to give homely ad vice about handkerchiefs, underwear, and overshoes, I have figured a way to support research in pediatric pathology. Most Americans are overweight. I have encountered a 5.5-million-year-old Sumerian tapeworm, whose message is “Eat, enjoy! We only pass this way once!” For 600 bucks a weekend, with a banquet thrown in, we can clean up. In any event, as we pass this waonly once, be kind to each other.
4. Involvement with the world. Medicine may not be enough. Love is not always enough. Not even family is enough. If being heavily involved with the nonprofessional Universe is crazy, what then is not being involved. As professionals, you have a great deal to offer. Your skills and insights are useful.
This year and in the past 3-4 years, I have joined the Board of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, the Michigan Ethics Resource Network, the VOICES Task Force on Child Abuse, the Swords into Plowshares Museum Board, am Secretary of the Poetry Resource: Center, the local Sierra Club, and am professional director of a church choir. I have discovered teaching of medical anthropology and the anthropology of violence and war, have been appointed to a binominal committee on remedial action for the Detroit River, and am on the Ecosystems Objectives and Human Health Committees (liaison on the latter) of the International Joint Commission. This is to mention but a few fascinating activities. I taught pediatric pathology in the U.S.S.R. and have remained co chair of my local Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. The teaching load has increased, and I am on more graduate advisory committees than I can afford. I feel, if depressed, very much alive. Thank you for this honor. The thoughtfulness of Drs. Gilbert, Bernstein, Bradford, and others is very much appreciated.