Obituary for Lee Perry
February 28, 1932 – March 13, 2021
Leah (Lee) Nathanson Leibner Perry –
February 28, 1932 – March 13, 2021
Lee Perry passed March 13 at 6:58am, leaving peacefully in her sleep. Her husband Glenn said, “She did it perfectly, right after I rang a ceremonial bell three times…” of course!
She was always on a mission to make the world a better place. She marched with her children for peace in San Francisco in the 60’s. She taught the most challenging class of kids in an East LA elementary school. From there she moved to a private school teaching children of Hollywood’s stars – dealing with an entirely different set of challenges. The parents loved her because she had no time for entitlement or privilege – “the price of freedom is responsibility” she would say (quoting Elbert Hubbard).
Grow up watching TV? Forget about it! She thought television was poison – even our 13″ black-and-white Zenith. Having tried to convince us of this but failing, she simply removed the tubes and took them with her unless there was some special reason to watch more than the 1-2 hours per week she allowed.
Reading, Music and the Arts – we had piano, clarinet, violin, chorus, dance and drama lessons as far back as we can all remember. We listened to Dylan, Baez, Judy Collins, The Doors, Aretha, Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs records. Shelves were full of books. You want something to do? Read. And sitting in her lap learning to sound out words one by one is a cherished memory – which I reminded her of as she asked me to read from Obama’s memoir the day before her 89th birthday a few weeks ago. She smiled and nodded while I read, and a few times asked me to pause for a “…that was nice. Now keep reading – I like how he writes.”
We attended ISOMATA (Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts) several summers in a row. I recall her trying to explain a performance of Rashomon. I was 11 at the time and to this day that story makes me appreciate people with markedly different understandings of the exact same event.
Deeply principled, Mom always aimed to do what she believed was right and just. She and Dad earned advanced degrees at USC while working full or part-time. We never felt poor, but nothing was wasted. One night a week eating out at the local Mexican, Italian or Chinese restaurant was a treat. We had what we needed and enjoyed small extravagances like renting a camper and driving through Yosemite or to New Mexico to visit our cousins over school vacations. One day she bought a nickel 5-pack of Juicy Fruit gum (along with TV, sweets were rare). I went to my room and unwrapped one piece and started chewing away – yum! Within minutes I was chomping away on all five pieces – this was awesome. She walks in and asks where the rest of the pack is – chewing one piece of gum now and then was fine but of course you share the rest. I freeze…she holds out her hand, palm up. I take the wad of gum out and place it in her hand – she walks out.
A few years after Dad passed away, Mom met Glenn Perry after attending a research project involving an early version of the floatation tank. They soon became inseparable – to this day they have only ever owned one cellphone at a time. And anyway, they never carried it so what did it matter.
Developing, perfecting and evangelizing about floating and the floatation tank became their mission in life. They believed the world would be a better place if more people floated away fear, anger, pain and hate. They touched thousands of people’s lives; their company “Samadhi Tank” became the name every person who ever floats will recognize as the people who started it all.
One more memory stands out. We were all together 18 months ago at Mom and Glenn’s Grass Valley home working on some content and promotional ideas for their recently published book Floating in Quiet Darkness. A couple of us got testy with each other about something. It went on a little too long… Mom stood up from the table. In a firm and just slightly raised voice, she said, Stop. This Is Not What We Do. This Is Not All Right With Me.
Silence… Glenn says, Ok, let’s move on. No scene. No yelling. No drama, no trauma. Just crystal clear resolve and conviction about how people ought to interact with each other. So impressive, so instructive.
Glenn says, “In her last days, at times, she seemed to be already much more somewhere else, but her humor, her good manners, her concern for others never left her and even then, she had an acceptance and immediate connection with others that was extraordinary.
Her unique contribution in the company was introducing people to the tank the first time and being with them after their float. Her lack of having an agenda allowed the floater to often receive much more from their float. The philosophy was – The tank is an environment for learning about oneself, in whatever way one wishes, without distraction. The tank does not tell us what to do and neither should we presume to tell others what their experience should be, either before or after their float. We trust in the inherent capacity of the individual to discover what is best for themselves. We believe that the most effective experience occurs when the initiative and power is left with the person and we are there to encourage that.”
She leaves behind her loving husband Glenn Perry, 1st daughter Laurie Leibner Arroyo, 2nd daughter Shoshana Leibner, me, her only son Josh Leibner and her grandson, Samuel Leibner.
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