John Holliday Perry Jr. started diving at a time that he called a few years B.C., Before Cousteau developed the aqualung.
He built most of the submarines for the James Bond movie Thunderball, and kept a few for his own use on a private island in the Bahamas.
At right is his shark hunter which he used to access a private underwater habitat in 1990. The house was about 30 ft down, and entered through an opening on the floor.
He liked to spend time down there listening to Brahms, Beethoven, and Belafonte, while watching the fish swim by.
Mr. John H. Perry, Jr. was born Jan. 2, 1917, in Seattle. His father, John H. Perry,
served as general counsel to the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain and the
forerunner of United Press International. The family moved to Tampa, Florida after World War I.
He graduated from Hotchkiss in 1935, Yale in 1939, and attended the Harvard School of Business Administration.
During World War II he served as a pilot in both the Anti-Submarine Service and the Air Transport Command. He served in the Army Air Corps as a pilot ferrying DC-3 cargo planes and B-26 bombers from California to Hawaii and Guadalcanal.
The family bought a home in Palm Beach, Florida in 1946 while spending summers in Greenwich, Conn.
After his father’s death in 1952, Mr. Perry inherited the chain.
He pioneered the use of cold type and computers in newspaper production and designed a revolutionary engraving machine.
Mr. Perry was Chairman, President and principal shareholder of Perry Publications, Inc., which operated 28 newspapers, as well as magazine publishing and printing operations. He is widely recognized for his pioneering introduction of computers for automated newspaper production in the composing room. This was a forerunner to today’s techniques in high-speed newspaper production.
In 1956, the Perry Baromedical company formed as Perry Submarine Builders. Initial operations were housed in the Lantana, Florida Boatyard. While at this location, the three man Company designed and built the early “Perry Submarines”. These were small 1 and 2 man submarines named PC-1, PC-2 and PC-3 series which ranged in depth capability from 150 ft of sea water (FSW) to 600 FSW. The PC3B was used in the search for a lost Hydrogen Bomb in the sea off the Coast of Spain in March of 1966 after the crash of a USAF B-52.
At one time, John was a member of a 15-man commission appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to prepare a national ocean program that led to the formation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
In 1968, Perry Baromedical was renamed Perry Oceanographics. Over the next 15 years, the Company grew to more than 400 employees and expanded to additional facilities at the Port of Palm Beach. During this period, the Company designed and developed numerous submersibles, saturation diving systems, remote controlled unmanned vehicles both for commercial markets in the Gulf of Mexico, The North Sea, The South China Sea, and Offshore Brazil as well as military programs for the U.S. Government.
In 1969, Perry sold his family’s 27 newspapers for a reported $75 million to Cox Enterprises.
In 1976, they manufactured and delivered the Lotus underwater car for the James Bond Film “The Spy who Loved Me”.
In 1989, John Perry decided to sell all of his holdings and devote his time to the development of a Hydrogen powered automobile. The Company was split into three parts. The military contract business was sold to what is today, The Lockheed Corporation, operating as Perry Technologies.
In 2002, Mr. Perry died in the hospital in Gainesville, Ga. He was 89 years old.