manchester-by-the-Sea — Christopher R. Perry, a reclusive bear of a man whose shyness and strength were matched by his kindness, candor, generosity, and wit, died unexpectedly, April 28, at his Manchester home. He was 44 years old.
Intuitive about carpentry, wiring, and machinery of all kinds, Chris possessed mechanical skills that made him invaluable to any enterprise, from B.N. Productions, Inc. of Boxford, for which he worked many years as a lighting technician, to family or friends' home repair and construction projects. Whether erecting spotlights at the Boston Ballet, repairing gym equipment, or building a tree house for a nephew that later became the focus of a Boston Globe story, Chris was a perfectionist in his work.
The youngest of four siblings, Chris was born in Gloucester, son of the late Rolland and Frances Perry. He was a 1987 graduate of Manchester High School, where he built sets for the drama club's ambitious stagings of Broadway musicals. In later years, he constructed theatrical props in Windham, Conn., for his niece and nephew's own high school productions.
After studying at North Shore Community College and working at the Home Center in Essex, Chris joined B.N. Productions, where he served as project manager. He was a certified theater rigger whose assignments included lighting systems or curtains at Foxwoods, the Fleet and Wang centers, the Majestic and Colonial theaters, and school auditoriums around New England. He was also head of maintenance at the Reading Athletic Club.
Though valuing his privacy and solitude, in recent years Chris became committed to the Thacher Island Association, the Rockport organization that maintains Thacher and Straitsmouth islands. Chris fell in love with Thacher while serving there as an assistant keeper in 2010. The following year, Chris joined the volunteer group's weekly work crew on its repair and restoration projects. Chris returned as a Thacher keeper in 2011 and 2012 and was a crewman on the island's launch. He was looking forward to being on Thacher again in June.
Chris is survived by three sisters, Sharron Cohen and her husband, David, of Gloucester, Suzanne Launer and her husband, Fred, of Sterling, Alaska, and Tricia Hul and her husband, Andy, of Columbia, Conn.; two nephews, Nathan Cohen of Rockport and Ryan Hul of Columbia; a niece, Julianna Hul of Columbia; an aunt and uncle, Chuck and Pat Poirier of Concord, N.H.; and a dear friend, Julie McCarthy of Gloucester. Chris and his former wife, Laura (Theobald) Kline, maintained close ties, and he was a devoted godfather to Violette and Estar, the daughters of Laura and her husband, Greg, all of Harriman, N.Y.
ARRANGEMENTS: Contributions in Chris's memory can be made to the Thacher Island Association, P.O. Box 73, Rockport, MA 01966. The family will conduct a private gathering at a later date, but to share thoughts of him now, visit http://chrisperry.memory-of.com or www.grondinfuneralservices.com.