Here's space to remember, honor and pay tribute to one of Coatesville's hometown legends.
We invite you to light a candle in his memory, or share a condolence in the Guest Book section.
Roderick Maurice Perry, 86, affectionately known as "Rod" was born in Coatesville Pennsylvania on July 30, 1934, to and Edward Perry, Sr. and Delia Alston Perry
Rod Perry left quite a legacy at the 1953 Pennsylvania State track and field championship. Rod was an outstanding two sport athlete for Coatesville High School. As a basketball player, Rod was a member of the Red Raiders 1952 State Championship runner up team. In track, however, Rod left his name in the record books.
As a junior and a senior, Rod was the Ches-Mont Champion in the high and low hurdles. During both of those years, he also reigned as District Champion. He captured the State Championship in both events as a junior.
In 1953, Rod set a national record in the 180 yard low hurdles with a time of 18.8 seconds. It was at the state champion meet that year that Rods high school career was truly epitomized. Rod was crowned State Champion in both the high and low hurdles. Demonstrating amazing versatility, Rod also competed in the shot put that year. He went on to capture third-place honors in the state.
Rod then went to Penn State University. He continued his track endeavors and had an excellent career in the hurdles. While at Penn State, Rod was IC4A champion.
Rod attended Penn State University from 1952 - 1956 on a track scholarship, where he broke school records on the high hurdles and briefly held the world record. As a result of his accomplishments in track, the University bronzed his track shoes and one shoe was kept in the Penn State’s trophy case. He was also captain of the basketball team.
Upon graduation, Rod served in the United States Army from 1958-1960. He ran track for the Army and traveled around singing and entertaining. He was honorably discharged in 1960, and he moved to New York City to pursue an acting career.
In New York, he modeled for the prestigious Ford Modeling Agency and acted in several Broadway plays. In between modeling jobs he worked as a youth counselor. He later moved to Los Angeles, California and began a television and movie career.
Rod is best known for his role as Sgt. David "Deacon" Kay in the 1970s TV series S.W.A.T. He also played leading roles in two blaxploitation movies in the mid-1970s: The Black Godfather (1974) and The Black Gestapo (1975). Other TV appearances include Barney Miller, Good Times, Babylon 5, and the 1974 TV movies The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and Trapped Beneath the Sea. Rod also appeared in several commercials and made guest appearances on sitcoms and late-night talk shows.
In the 2000s, Perry had a cameo role in the 2003 film version of S.W.A.T., playing the father of the character he portrayed three decades earlier in the TV series.
In year the 2000, during the inaugural banquet, Rod as inducted into the Coatesville Area Sports Hall of Fame.
To those who knew and loved him, he was known for his big heart, infectious laugh, his charm and a smile that could light up any room or lift any sour mood. He was a loving, caring father and friend who touched many lives with his kind words and his desire to help others. To his children, he was supportive, loving and always encouraged their dreams.
Rod is survived by his children, Roderick H. Perry, Roderick M. Perry, Ronald Perry, Phaedra Perry and Sheridan Allen-Perry. He is survived by 5 siblings, Edward Perry Jr., Archibald Perry, Adelia Ann Perry, Ruby Smith, Juanita Perry and his grandchildren, Daniel Perry, Kylee Perry and Ameera Perry.