Robert Peter Perry, M.D., Mentor, Teacher, Former Professor, Dies at 61

Robert Peter “Bob” Perry, M.D., adored mentor, teacher, doctor and former professor of internal medicine at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, died Aug. 18. He was 61.

Perry was well-known throughout the MCV Campus and served as a faculty member in the School of Medicine from 1979 until his retirement in 2004. During his time at VCU, he served as the program director for the VCU Department of Internal Medicine’s residency training program, associate dean of graduate medical education and chief of general medicine at the McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He was awarded the Department of Internal Medicine’s David Markham Award for Outstanding Teaching.

In 1976, Perry and Sheldon Retchin, M.D., CEO of VCU Health System and vice president for health sciences at VCU, became fast friends while starting their internships together, and remained close friends throughout their residency programs. Both Perry and Retchin were appointed chief residents, along with George F. Moxley, M.D., who currently serves as associate professor in the VCU Department of Internal Medicine.

“Both of them were far brighter and more organized - I learned immensely from them.  Bob had an extraordinary wealth of knowledge,” said Retchin.  

“More importantly, his friendship was nourishing and balancing through those years of training.  He could handle difficult problems and resolve conflicts with ease. He bailed me out so many times,” he said.

John E. Nestler, M.D., chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, came to know Perry when he was an intern and Perry served as chief medical resident.

“He was an incredibly thoughtful, talented and skilled individual. I learned so much from him, and what particularly struck me was that he treated everyone around him - from the residents he was supervising to his patients - with great kindness.  Many faculty and former trainees have contacted me expressing their sorrow on his passing,” said Nestler.

Perry remained a friend and adviser to Retchin in his early years as a faculty member.

“I loved to make him laugh with surprise at my remarks when we were residents together. I did this because I could never surprise him with medical knowledge - he was just too much smarter than me,” he said.  

“Bob gave so much to patient care, and to teaching. He loved to teach and he loved taking care of patients. He will be missed by many,” said Retchin.