About a month ago, on May 10th, my brother Shan emailed to let me know that our maternal uncle Harlin had died:
Mom just called to inform me Uncle Harlin died. After lunch he died peacefully in his sleep. He was active to the very end, walking, birding, reading, etc. I knew you would want to know having been closer to him than any of us. He was a remarkable man in many ways.
He was remarkable. A man of many interests, he had a powerful mind to match. In addition to knowing more about law than any man I'd ever met, he was also an amateur expert on wine, birds, and chess, among other things, and he had a professional interest in history
"French Nationalism and Foreign Policy from September 20, 1792 to January 31, 1793: The Patriotism of the French Leaders and the Policy Followed by the Convention"
Harlin Jackson Perryman
University of Arkansas, 1952
He had, in fact, gotten a scholarship
for Pennsylvania State University:
Harlan (sic) Perryman, who was a very sharp student, got a good fellowship at Pennsylvania State University.
But he couldn't get along with his adviser, who thought all Southerners were stupid - or treated them that way - so Harlin returned to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where he seems to have gotten his master's degree. He then served a term as an elected member of the Arkansas Legislature, for which the above photograph was made, afterwards returning to Fayetteville for a law degree.
He and I had a number of discussions about history, and he always knew the details better than I did. This was during my time at Berkeley, for he and I lived close enough for me to visit him and Aunt Betty. He worked as a lawyer in San Jose, if I recall, and he was involved in advising the California Democratic Party, which he also served as treasurer. His politics were middle-of-the-road, so far as I could tell. I do recall that he didn't like "crazies," a label that he applied to the emotion-based politics of the left - and of the right, for that matter.
In many ways, he remained a man of the Ozarks, living in California's coastal-range Santa Cruz Mountains and chopping his own firewood. He was enough Cherokee to be recognizably Indian (despite that retouched photo above), and he stood an imposing six feet and three or four inches and looked pretty strong from the physical work he did in chopping wood to keep his home warm, and he believed to some degree in an earlier America's sense of frontier justice. He once told me, "A little violence never hurt anybody." But he was a peaceful man and laughed to show that he wasn't completely serious. He even laughed when I retorted that he was "a professional hillbilly." But he wouldn't have had to work hard at being one, for he retained his Ozark accent all his life.
Although we kept in contact throughout my time in Europe - he and Aunt Betty even visited me when I lived in Tuebingen, Germany - and though I took Sun-Ae to meet him and Betty in 1995, when he and I, along with our spouses, drank an expensive Rothschild red wine to celebrate my doctorate and marriage, we lost contact when my work took me to parts of the world other than Europe. I tried several times to track down his email address, but I could never find one, though I did find this
Monday February 18[, 2013]. Melody and I had an adult bald eagle at Mather Lake at about 9:30 a.m. It was at first perched, but it began flying around the lake. Apparently it left soon after because we did not see it again until we left at about noon. Harlin Perryman. Sacramento
Melody was his adopted daughter, a daughter from Aunt Betty's first marriage, but I found neither his email address nor hers in my searches. I wish I knew more about him, but I found no obituary. Perhaps this is the closest thing to that. If so, and if others who knew Uncle Harlin wind up here looking for him, then please leave a comment and add what you know.
Meanwhile, Uncle Harlan, rest in peace.
: See more here
Labels: Death, Family, Harlin Perryman, Wine