Obituary: Burton 'Burt' A. Perrett / Veteran committed to law enforcement
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Harmar Patrolman Burton A. "Burt" Perrett recognized the man who shot him in 1964.
Mr. Perrett, who grew up in the township along the Allegheny River, knew pretty much everybody in the community, according to his wife, Evie. "Burt had arrested him a couple of times," she said of the gunman.
Mr. Perrett had been a Marine in Korea and he knew what to do when he came under fire, Mrs. Perrett said. "He hit the ground and started rolling away," she said. One bullet passed through his hat, another hit his boot, another hit his belt buckle, while a thick pocket notebook stopped another. One shot, however, hit him in the leg.
Although wounded, Mr. Perrett apprehended his assailant. "He wouldn't go to the hospital until he caught this guy," his wife said. "They fixed up his leg and by the end of the week he was back at work."
Mr. Perrett, who went on to serve as Harmar police chief, died Friday at his home in the township. He was 85.
"Being a policeman was his life," his son, Reilly, said. "He loved his job and he loved going to work."
"I remember riding around with him in his police car," Reilly Perrett said. "He wanted me to be a policeman, and I had no problem with that." Like his father, Reilly Perrett started as a patrolman and eventually became Harmar police chief.
"My mom would say that she was married to one police chief and gave birth to another," her son said.
Born in Pittsburgh, Mr. Perrett was the son of the late Burton and Mary Williams Perrett. He grew up in Harmar and graduated from the former Aspinwall High School. He was wounded while serving with the Marines in Korea and received the Purple Heart. He worked for Duquesne Light, as a Harmar constable and as a part-time police officer before being hired full-time in the township.
His interests outside of work included hunting and fishing, which took him and his son on trips to Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana.
During a 40-year career in law enforcement, Mr. Perrett became a community fixture. He had an informal outdoor office in a Harmar shopping plaza near Route 910.
"He'd sit there on a bench with a cigar in his mouth, and everybody would come up and talk with him," his son recalled.
His gunshot wound was his only major injury during his long career. "He had busted knuckles and got a few black eyes over the years," Mrs. Perrett said.
Mr. Perrett on occasion used nontraditional policing methods. Facing a tavern full of rowdy motorcyclists, he called on the township fire chief to bring a pumper truck to the scene. "He hosed them down," his wife said.
Working in a small community also meant that everyone knew his home and family. "He taught me to shoot and always to park my car in the garage," Mrs. Perrett said.
In addition to his son, who lives in Harmar, he is survived by his wife of 55 years, the former Evie Honkus, and two grandchildren. Services and burial were private. Arrangements are by the Charles B. Jarvie Funeral Home, 801 Pittsburgh St., Springdale.
First Published November 13, 2012 12:00 am