Perry Grit: How a family's promise is being fulfilled after a pl - - Jackson, MS

Perry Grit: How a family's promise is being fulfilled after a plane crash last August

OXFORD, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Three Oxford families are searching for a new normal after a plane crash last August near Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

The three couples on board, Drs. Jason and Lea Farese, Dr. Austin Poole and his wife Angie, and Dr. Michael Perry and his wife Kim, were killed.

In total, eleven children were left behind.

This is the story of how the Perry family is finding new strength after their world was turned upside down on August 14, 2016.

Just two and a half years younger, Robert was close to his big brother Michael and nothing could've prepared him for the call from his mom that day.

"Did you hear about the accident?" Robert Perry recalled hearing his mom ask. "I said no and she said well your brother was in an accident. He always drove pretty fast. So, I was thinking wow he got in a car accident. And she said, they both died. They were in a plane crash."

Robert and his wife Ashley had just moved to Memphis and their four kids were three days into a new school.

"I remember one of the first thoughts I had was, we're going to raise these kids," explained Ashley Perry.

"When the accident happened, we knew we had to come down here and create like this new normal for Sara and John West and Anna Reed in their school and with their sports," noted Robert.

But it was more than just a thought. It was a promise Robert had made to Michael during a conversation about estate planning.

"Which was, you'll take care of my kids, right?," recounted Perry. "Yes. You'll do the same, right? Yes. And so it really wasn't a question when it came down to who it's going to take care of them. It was in the estate plan which made it easy because it was spelled out by both Michael and Kim."

They are now the legal guardians of Michael and Kim's three children. So, the new normal is seven kids in four different schools across the Oxford school district and Ashley managing the family calendar.

They're not doing this alone.

Two grandmothers have now moved to Oxford and help with the shuttling from school to sports and everything in between.

The Oxford community has also wrapped its arms around the Perry's. They don't pretend like it's been easy. 

"It's overwhelming to look at the big picture and to look at just the full tragedy of the situation," admitted Ashley Perry."You really just can't look at it that way. It's just looking at how can I be the best that I can be to these kids today."

It was apparent early on that they weren't prepared for this. Who could be? 

"We both say to each other and to the kids that we'll never be their parents, but they will always feel loved and supported and we'll make sure that Michael and Kim's legacy lives out through their three children," described Robert Perry.

A book sitting on the front porch when Robert arrived at his brother's house the day of the accident prompted what's come to be an important part of the way they persevere.

"We had a family meeting and we basically said let's have a family motto," he explained. "And I said what do you guys think about Perry Grit? It's going to take a lot of grit to get through this every day. Michael and Kim were gritty people and that's what it takes, And that's what helped us get through, is that grit."

It's not even been a year, but they're not shying away from keeping Michael and Kim's legacy alive.

"I really try to just incorporate memories of Michael and Kim into anything that we may be doing," described Ashley. "Just asking Anna Reed what ways did you like your mom to do your hair? Or always just bringing up those things."

Robert has spent a lot of the last year handling the logistics of his brother's estate, a periodontics practice, rental properties, and a 73 acre sportsplex privately funded by the couple.


"I really haven't had just a whole lot of time to just kind of sit around and think about exactly what happened," he admits. "And I know that day's coming. And I've got to be able to work through that, but I've really tried to be the rock for the kids and Ashley"

Faith is what's pulling the Perrys through, even when they wonder how these children can pull themselves out of bed some mornings.

"The struggle is definitely still here within these four walls, for sure," said Robert. "So, we need those continued prayers and support."

"Beauty can come from brokenness," added Ashley Perry. "We have a lot of broken things in our life but we know that God makes all things new and that he will make beauty from this brokenness."

Michael and Kim Perry were originally from Brandon.

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