Eston “Bud” Perry says he is a firm believer in working for what you want. “I think you can do about anything if you set your mind to it,” he said.
His life is certainly proof of that statement. As a young man, Perry enlisted in the U.S. Army. When his two years were up, Perry decided to pay a visit to his younger brother, a student at Indiana State University. Perry liked what he saw.
“It’s a wonderful university. It’s big enough to offer whatever you need and small enough so that you know anyone you want to know,” he said.
Although his family was “far from wealthy,” Perry was determined to attend Indiana State. To do so, he worked in a store 40 hours a week (mostly nights and weekends) while attending classes. In summers, he worked in construction.
“It wasn’t a big deal,” he said. “I couldn’t have gone to college if I didn’t work and earn the money to pay for it. It was worth it.”
A 1961 graduate of the College of Health and Human Services, Perry married later that year a Purdue University grad he met when she visited a cousin on the Indiana State campus. Perry and his wife, Alice “Annie,” have three children — Julie Anne Heck (Steven), Jeffrey John Perry (Jennifer), and Jennifer Lee Norris (Travis).
Perry put the same determination that got him through college to work to become a successful businessman and entrepreneur. Chairman of the Board of Oakley Corporation — a commercial real estate development and management company in Terre Haute and Winter Park, Fla. — Perry also oversees a family-run foundation, the Hollie and Anna Oakley Foundation.
Through the foundation, the Perrys have been generous, longtime supporters of Indiana State, helping the campus, programs and students flourish. The foundation has been responsible for the naming of Oakley Plaza and the Basketball Practice Court.
In honor of their longstanding commitment to the university, the Perrys will receive honorary doctorates of humanities at the spring commencement ceremony this month.
“I think it is important to give back to your university, to support it however you can,” Perry said. “It has helped you have success in your life, and you want to help other students have that same opportunity.”
As for advice for young people, Perry said he would encourage everyone to get more education and to pursue their goals no matter how unattainable those goals may seem.
“You can go to college. It is not that insurmountable,” he said. “Decide on what you want to do and go after it. You have to be determined to work for it if you want to succeed.”