Elizabeth Perry

Obituary of Elizabeth Perry

Elizabeth Perry, formerly Pyne Elizabeth Stuyvesant Perry died Wednesday, July 1, at her Princeton home of more than 60 years with her devoted husband, Dr. Venkatesan Perry, and a son by her side. She was 92. A shrewd and highly successful investor, Mrs. Perry was also a Silver Life Master in bridge, an enthusiastic gardener, and an early supporter of environmental and women's reproductive health causes. But most important to her, she was a loving and supportive mother to her five children: Peter, Elizabeth ("Lyn"), Russell, Lawrence ("Lucky") and John ("Jay") Pyne. She was a strong, independent woman who worked tirelessly to ensure they received the best possible education and start in life. She was born Oct. 26, 1922 in Washington, D.C., the first child of Grace Chapin and the Hon. Hamilton Fish. As the young daughter of a long-time member of the U.S. Congress, she had many experiences in pre-war Washington that seem improbable today. She regularly helped her mother host notable statesmen; was asked by Pres. Calvin Coolidge to throw the switch for one of the first national Christmas trees with electric lights; and, along with her friends, played regularly at Blair House and on the grounds of the White House. She attended St. Timothy's School in Maryland, where she won several prizes, but was largely self-educated. She was a voracious reader, and had a sharp mind and an infectious love of learning. During World War II, she worked for the U.S. State Department before marrying Lt. John Insley Blair Pyne in 1943, who was a carrier-based pilot in the U.S. Navy. After the war, they moved into G.I. Bill housing so modest that one bathroom served several apartments. While Mr. Pyne continued his studies at Princeton University, she listened closely to him and the experts in the emerging field of computer science in which he later worked, and she successfully identified companies in which to invest their then meager savings. Over the years, she developed an analytical approach to investing that outperformed most stock indices, and she came to understand state and federal tax codes better than many CPAs. She never forgot her childhood during the Great Depression and was a lifelong saver, but she was generous with her wealth, which she shared with her extended family. In 1981, she and Mr. Pyne were amicably divorced after a separation of many years, and in 1991 on the island of Kauai she married Venkatesan Perry, PhD, a pioneer with several patents in fuel cell and fiber optic technology. They were steadfast bridge partners, great friends, and frequently traveled together, with India and Brazil being two favorite destinations. She also enjoyed becoming close with Dr. Perry's family in the United States, including brothers Seshan and his wife Lalitha; Balu and his wife Radha, and Natarajan and his wife Sudha. In addition to her husband, she is survived by her sons, Russell B. Pyne, a venture capitalist in Atherton, California, his wife Helen C. Pyne and their children Thornton Hamilton, Russell Stuyvesant, Nicholas Fish and Elizabeth Cooke Pyne; Lawrence S. Pyne, an outdoor journalist and on-air personality for Vermont PBS in Middlebury, Vermont, and his children Grace Chapin, Nathan Stuyvesant and Jacob Perry Pyne; and John Pyne, M.D., an orthopedic hand surgeon in Dixmont, Maine, his wife Sandra W. Pyne, and their children Sarah Morris, Abigail Stebbins and Chapin Reed Pyne. She is also survived by her late brother Hamilton Fish Jr.'s four children: Hamilton Fish III, Alexa Ward, Nicholas Fish and Peter Fish. A celebration of her life will be held later this summer in Princeton. Her ashes will be scattered in her garden at her Princeton home, at her ancestral churchyard in Garrison, NY and in the Ganges River in India. Arrangements are by Mather-Hodge Funeral Home Princeton.
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