Celebrating what they all knew to be his final birthday, friends of Jack Perialas, from left standing, Dick Wyatt, Bud Saunders, Jim Taubert, Stell Manfredi, David Votaw, Eric Gustafson, Robert Poythress, John Gustafson, Don Horal, Terry Hansen. Front, Kris Kascht, Jack Perialas, Bobby Kahn and Jack’s wife, Paula Perialas, on June 3. (For The Madera Tribune)
Longtime Maderan and civic leader John “Jack” Perialas, 86, died Aug. 13, 2016, in Madera of a long illness. Born to George and Eileen Perialas in Wyoming, Pennsylvania, on June 3, 1930, he served in the United States Air Force from 1947 to 1950.
Following his military service he worked as a travelling salesman and enjoyed seeing the country and making friends. While living in Hawaii he met his wife, the former Paula Rhoads, while she vacationed on the islands.
“A girlfriend and I went into a piano bar and there was this fellow singing,” said Paula. “I bought him a drink. He always said it was two drinks,” she said with a smile in her voice.
It was his fondness for the music of Frank Sinatra that led many of his female friends and family to call Perialas old blue eyes.
The two were married in Los Altos in 1972 and relocated to Madera a year later. The couple embraced their new hometown and joined the Madera Chamber of Commerce. They owned the downtown office supply store, Madera Stationers, for 20 years.
“Jack Perialas was a pillar of our community, a real mover and shaker in this town,” said Jim Taubert, head of the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency and a longtime friend of Perialis. “When we began the voluntary graffiti abatement program, we hoped to get 100 volunteers to clean up Madera, and we got 1,500 people and Jack was the star of the show.”
The City of Madera furnished paint, solvent and other materials to the merchants and residents to enable them to remove or paint over the graffiti on their businesses, homes and fences. Most of the people came in once every couple of months for fresh supplies, he said.
“Jack was there every week,” Taubert said. “That is how much graffiti he took down. He was a one-man graffiti abatement crew.”
Perialas held a seat on the Planning Commission and was director of the Industrial Development Commission for some fairly significant projects, Taubert said.
“The water and sewer line expansion that pushed the development of Cleveland Avenue and Country Club Village and where Shebelut’s (now Madera Auto Center) is located, was all put together by Jack Perialas,” he said.
Perialas convinced a lot of companies to build factories in Madera, Taubert said.
“CertainTeed, Evapco, Amco, Leslie Lock Company and many others brought jobs to Madera because of Jack Perialas,” he said.
And he was a darn good person on top of that, Taubert said.
Jack Perialas was quite an accomplished businessman and very devoted to his family and friends especially his wife Paula,” said Debi Bray CEO of the Madera Chamber of Commerce. “He held our community close to his heart and worked with great loyalty to make Madera a better place.”
It was accomplished through his dedicated efforts and his ability to influence positive change, she said.
“I along with many others will miss him and remember him with much love and respect,” said Bray.
He served as a route driver and courier for the Madera Community Hospital League of Volunteers for 10 years.
He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Paula; son Jack “Buddy” Perialas; brother Stephen Perialas; stepchildren Doug Lax, Pam and husband Gene Thistle; grandchildren Grant and wife Maggie Lax, Casie and husband Chris Diaz, and great-granddaughter Mya Diaz.
A celebration of Jack’s life will be held at 3 p.m. on Sept. 10 at Harvest Community Church, 2001 National Ave.
Remembrances may be made In lieu of flowers to Jack’s favorite charity, Harvest Community Church.
“He did it his way!”