World War II and Korean War Veteran
I remember the first time I saw my uncle, Reubin. Tall (6’4″), polite, quiet man, who always smiled with so much concern for life, and such a contrast to my own father, which was helpful for me to see for so many reasons. Uncle Reubin also reminded me of my maternal grandfather. There was always a quiet dignity about my Uncle Reubin. Now, I’m reminded daily where that dignity came from.
In spite of harsh racism he experienced both in Mississippi-Jim Crow south and in the then segregated military, Reubin always loved his country and others around him. He genuinely just liked people, even people he didn’t know, always polite and kind, and displaying an infectious smile which often came with a funny joke or two.
Reubin made many sacrifices for his family. And he was always ready to pitch in to make a positive difference wherever he could.
Reubin served honorably in two wars – World War II with the U.S. Army and the Korean Conflict with the U.S. Navy. He never complained, whined or offered any excuses. He always did what he thought he had to do.
After military life, Reubin settled in Oakland, Calfornia, where he would work tirelessly to relocate his family from inhumane racial conditions of Jim Crow south. He was an employee for the U.S. Government at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California for 30 years, as well as worked for Oakland’s Housing Authority.
Reubin loved his community and was a member of the same church for over 60 years. In addition to being a member of the church choir, he performed many duties including as Treasurer, a Steward and waiter for the annual Steward Banquet, President of the action group, a class leader, and an assistant worker who helped rebuild his same church.
Uncle Reubin’s favorite past-time was baseball. I learned to love baseball because of him. I never paid much attention to the sport because basketball was my favorite sport. But every time we’d visit during baseball season, a game would be on TV and Uncle Reubin would be front and center in front of the TV in his comfortable chair. My favorite team became the Oakland A’s and I was fortunate to see both Ricky Henderson and Dennis Eckersley play live.
Uncle Reubin’s other favorite thing to do was play his piano at home. His excellent piano skills had a lasting effect on family members, especially his nephews.
For 60 years, Reubin was married to my aunt until his death at age 91 in May 2007. They were always a team, always together, and always each other’s friend.
It really saddened me that I couldn’t attend his funeral, especially because I was struggling from problems associated with folks who wouldn’t even know how to spell integrity. Uncle Reubin is a constant reminder for me that you don’t have to take the low road when faced with a difficult situation, and that integrity doesn’t change in any situation. Uncle Reubin is another reason why I have zero respect for thugs who have more options today but think the gangster lifestyle is their only option while expecting respect, worship and praise for absolutely nothing humane accomplished.
I am truly blessed to have had Uncle Reubin Perry in my life. He’s a perfect example of quality, military quality, faith, unconditional love, and leading by example. He’s another reason why we can never neglect our military personnel because they not only do so much for us, but inspire us daily. If we have no one good to look up to or model after, then what kind of society will we become?