AUDY MICHAEL PERRY - SIXEENTH PRESIDENT (INTERIM), 1999-2000
A. Michael Perry, successful businessman and member of the University System of West Virginia Board of Trustees, agreed to be the interim president after J. Wade Gilley’s departure on July 31, 1999. He took over the next day, giving his salary to the University’s general scholarship fund during his tenure. In September a new unit, the University College, was opened, serving incoming freshman who did not meet full admission standards. At the end of his tenure Marshall’s Thundering Herd capped the Mid-American Conference title and went on to defeat Brigham Young University at the Motor City Bowl, culminating the football team’s only perfect season. Perry responded to the December-third announcement of his successors’ appointment, "I’m relieved and looking to being even more relieved on Jan.1." He served for six months, leaving office at the end of the year, when Dan Angel took office.
Audy Michael Perry, the son of Austin L. Perry and Virginia (Cole) Perry, was born at Huntington, West Virginia, on May 31, 1936. He attended public schools in Huntington. He loved athletics, but his small stature prevented him from playing varsity sports. For what he lacked in sports he made up in the classroom, where he excelled academically. His first paying job was a paper boy. He graduated with honors from Huntington East High School in 1954. He next graduated with a B. A. from Marshall College in 1958. He moved to Morgantown to attend West Virginia University, where he obtained his LL.B. degree in 1961 at the top of his class.
Following graduation, he was hired by the Huddleston-Bolen law firm in Huntington, West Virginia, where he became a full partner within five years. He gave up the practice of law in October 1981, when Marshall Reynolds enticed him to become the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of First Huntington National Bank. Under his tutelage the bank’s holding company, Key Centurion Bancshares, grew from $200 million in assets in 1982 to over $3.5 billion within twelve years—West Virginia’s first billion dollar banking company. He continued to guide the bank until it was sold to Bank One of West Virginia, where he was both its chairman and CEO, until he retired in 2001.
He has been involved many other activities. He was the first chairman of Affiliated Health Services, a nonprofit organization which represents Cabell County Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital and Pleasant Valley Hospital He continues to serve as broad member of Ultimate Health Services and St Mary’s Hospital, and as a co-chairman of the West Virginia Children’s Health Project Mobile Medical Unit. He has received numerous awards: the West Virginia Banker Association’s"Banker of the Decade;" the Huntington Herald Dispatch’s "Citizen of the Year" (twice); and the "Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year in 1996" by the West Virginia - NSFRE National Philanthropy. He is a "Charter Member" of Marshall University and West Virginia University Business Hall of Fame, where he and Buck Harless were the only charter members for both Universities.
In 1958 he married Henriella Mylar, whom he met in the fifth grade and decided then that she would be his future wife. She is also a Marshall University graduate, class of 1958. They have three children. In 1973 the Perry’s moved into an old, decrepit log cabin on a large farm in Wayne County, which they renovated with dreams of restoring its barn as a museum to the past. With his usual determination, Perry began to restore the old farm, even bringing other structures to the property. His avocation grew in the Heritage Farm Museum and Village, which current consists of sixteen restored log and frame buildings for the visiting public. It is one of the most popular public attractions in the Tri-State region.
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