Martha Strong Perry

September 19, 1935September 28, 2020

Martha S Perry September 19, 1935 – September 28, 2020 Martha (Cunning) Strong Perry, 85, of Noank, CT, died on Monday September 28, 2020 at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital surrounded by family and friends. She was born in 1935 in Schenectady, NY, daughter of Florence (Geddes) and Morgan Bond Strong. She graduated from Nott Terrace High School (Schenectady) in 1953. After attending Vermont Junior College (Montpelier, VT) for one year, she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Sciences at Russell Sage College in Troy, NY, in 1957. In 1957, Martha married Peter Butler Perry of Ossining, NY, and a graduate of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY. The early years of their marriage were spent largely overseas around the Mediterranean where Peter served in the US Navy. This travel was a formative experience for Martha, and she continued to travel the world throughout her life. Upon their return to the US, they lived in Annapolis, Maryland, where their four children were born. In 1968, the family moved to Gales Ferry, CT. Martha and Peter divorced in 1982. Martha was a creative and innovative teacher. She started teaching at the nursery school at St David’s Episcopal Church in Gales Ferry, then co-partnered her own Discovery Nursery School. In 1978, she started teaching in the Enrichment Program in the Montville Public School system, where she retired in 1999. Even after retiring Martha was passionate about learning and teaching, continuing her education and teaching topics as varied as ESL and vegetarian cooking. She took several overseas trips to assist painter Charles Gruppe during his classes. Martha was adventurous, did things her own way, and embraced opportunities that came her way without fear. Martha loved the out of doors and hiked, biked, gardened, kayaked, and canoed. She hiked much of the Appalachian Trail, was a member of the Connecticut Outdoor Education Association, and an AMC naturalist in the White Mountain huts for a time. She was a Girl Scout leader and Boy Scout mother, and volunteered at Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic. She loved to travel and did it as much as possible, taking many friends with her. Martha loved to sketch and paint, and would doodle on any scrap of paper that was nearby. She loved family and friends, cooking and sharing food and wine, no matter where she found herself. Books were a passion that encompassed all of her interests, and her house was a veritable library of everything she enjoyed. Martha will be greatly missed by family and friends. Her cheerful and positive spirit is an inspiration to us all. She is survived by her four children, Elizabeth, Andrew (Caroline Chute), Janet (Chuck Hughes), and Matthew (Sue Homewood), three grandchildren, Katherine and John Hughes and Julia Chute and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. A grave-side service for family will be held at the Niskayuna Reformed Church (Niskayuna, NY) on October 9, 2020. A memorial service will be held in Southeast Connecticut at a later date. In lieu of flowers: sketch a flower, go for a walk, cook for friends, watch a sunset, laugh. Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society or other organization promoting cancer research and treatment.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Martha Strong Perry

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John Schneider

October 28, 2020

Martha was unique . She was so dedicated to her students, her family, and exploring and sharing this world. She was always so upbeat and active. We need more Martha's.

Daniel Dykes

October 27, 2020

I knew Martha as "Mrs. Perry," director of, and teacher in, the Enrichment Program of the Montville Public School System. Mrs. Perry's classroom was an oasis of creativity, curiosity, and expansiveness in what was otherwise too often a desert of bureaucracy, social control, and limited horizons. Under her offbeat direction and with the guidance of her wry humor, school became a magical place that buoyed our spirits and set our minds free.

Our many excellent field trips, from bird-banding to the study of creeks and marshes to the incomparable weeklong stays at Nature's Classroom, were the absolute highlights of elementary and middle school. With Mrs. Perry, we could find the interest in any topic, even those we may not have expected to like — it was thanks to her, for example, that I discovered a love of logic games that later would help me pass the LSAT and get into law school.

An eccentric in the best possible sense of that word, Martha seemed to take her own idiosyncratic and solitary path through life, and yet simultaneously nourish us all with her warmth and goodwill. We knew she was on our side in a way that other teachers rarely were, and her very path and career showed us that it was possible — indeed, even necessary — to be ourselves first, and to fit society's narrow roles for us second, if at all. Thank you for everything, Mrs. Perry. You will be missed, but the spirit of boundless inquiry you fostered in us lives on.

Josh Schroeder

October 7, 2020

I have such fond memories of my time in Enrichment with Mrs. Perry. It was always the best part of school, and I still think of her as someone who took us on adventures and opened my eyes to new worlds. I have such specific and detailed memories of trips to salt marshes and museums, and learning about so many interesting things that didn’t seem to fit in the standard curriculum.
Mrs. Perry was an inspiration, and certainly someone I think of as a model for how I approach teaching. One of the things I enjoyed at the time was I felt like she let us run wild, but I now realize she was ahead of her time, encouraging us kids to explore our interests, make our learning relevant to us, and construct our knowledge. I am certain she inspired so many of her students, and she will be deeply missed.

Ben Grondahl

October 7, 2020

Mrs. Perry taught me for several years in Montville, and was a legendary and influential part of my development. I want to share a fun memory from outside the classroom, though. One year after I had graduated high school (it may have been 2000 or 2001), my father and I hiked up Lantern Hill to see the sunrise on the spring equinox. We scrabbled up the ice-covered hill in the dark - it was treacherous! - and when we got to the top, there was Mrs. Perry, enjoying a glass of wine and taking in the sunrise as a troupe of Morris dancers welcomed the spring. It's an unforgettable memory and I hope she lived out her years enjoying such pleasures. My condolences to your family - Mrs. Perry was truly one of a kind and an amazing woman.

Colin Brown

October 7, 2020

As a former student of Mrs. Perry's, she was an incredible teacher who opened every student's eyes to exciting new experiences. I went on to work at Nature's Classroom (along with several other students of hers) shortly after college, as the experiences as a youth were that formative. By the time I worked there as an adult, her Montville program had achieved high regard among the NC teachers, for always having excellent and inquisitive students which every NC teacher wanted to work with. My sincerest condolences on a life well lived.

Katherine Dykes

October 7, 2020

Martha inspired hundreds of Montville students (and parents) over 21 years of dedicated service as an Enrichment teacher. My two children still speak of her often. The day they spent in her classroom each week was their favorite school day from 4th through 8th grade. She introduced her students to Nature's Classroom - what a fantastic program! All of those students have Mrs. Perry to thank for those unforgettable camping experiences! Her emphasis was always a combination of scientific discovery, creativity and fun. I was one of the mothers who helped in the classroom, drove on field trips and chaperoned at Nature's Classroom. She was always engaged in all aspects of life in a hands-on way and it was wonderfully challenging to try to keep up with her. I remember she brought an easel to Nature's Classroom and did some watercolors while the kids were with their counselors. She had so many interests and shared them all with her students. This is a huge loss to many, many people but we are all very much richer for the time we spent with our dynamic teacher, Martha Perry. She was a real friend. She will always be loved.

Shannon Shimer

October 7, 2020

I had Mrs. Perry as my enrichment teacher for the last few years of her retirement-- even as a kid, I could see how interesting and wide-ranging her life was. She fostered in me a GREAT love of learning and thinking outside the box. Some of my fondest memories of K-12 education include her, our trips to Nature's Classroom, and her help on our National History Day projects. We were lucky to have her in Montville for as long as we did. Please know that she will be missed and her memory lives on with all of us who were lucky to know her.

Erika Harger

October 6, 2020

Dear Elizabeth, Our sincerest sympathy on the passing of your mom. Jonathan and I visited her after one of her cancer treatments when our French friend, Maria Blasquez, stayed with her. She was very upbeat and gave me a book about Provence written in German. I started the book again with the intention of finishing it this time! I know that your mom and Maria did quite a bit of traveling together. I also recall the fun time we had visiting you near Boston and learning to use the MTA. Please give us a call sometime at 860-739-4224 when we can reminisce about those times with your mom. Love, Erika and Jonathan Harger


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