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WVU Foundation mourns passing of former president and CEO

A portrait of Duke Perry is shown on a blue background. Perry is wearing a dark suit jacket and tie against a gray backdrop.

F. Duke Perry, who died last week at the age of 84, led the WVU Foundation as president and CEO from 1999 until his retirement in 2006. Under Perry’s leadership and direction, the WVU Foundation produced more than $900 million in private and corporate gifts to support the mission of WVU. (WVU Graphic)

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As president and CEO of the WVU Foundation, F. Duke Perry used his fundraising skills and experience to achieve new philanthropic milestones in support of West Virginia University. Following his passing last week at age 84, he is credited with helping transform WVU into a modern land-grant university. 

Perry led the WVU Foundation from 1999 until his retirement in 2006. He passed away Thursday, Feb. 22, in Fishersville, Virginia.

Under Perry’s leadership and direction, the WVU Foundation produced over $900 million in private and corporate gifts to support the mission of WVU. Many of those gifts were made as part of the “Building Greatness” campaign, which he helped steer to success.

Perry also oversaw the construction of One Waterfront Place, the Foundation’s seven-story office building in Morgantown’s Wharf District. The project served as a catalyst for revitalization of the waterfront area. The F. Duke Perry Walkway, a sidewalk between One Waterfront Place and the Morgantown Marriott at Waterfront Place, recognizes his lasting influence.

Former WVU President David C. Hardesty described Perry as a skilled professional who was always prepared and never rattled. He and Perry became good friends as they traveled to meet with donors in support of the “Building Greatness” campaign and Hardesty said he often leaned on Perry for advice.

“He was one of the building blocks of the new University,” Hardesty said. “The University today is a nationally prominent research university. It has a substantial Foundation and an active donor group, and he was one of the building blocks. He attracted donors with a professional touch. They knew they could rely on him. There have been several people who contributed, but Duke was one of the foundational leaders of the Foundation in the modern era.”

W. Marston “Marty” Becker, a longtime member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, said Perry did a “superb job” for WVU.

“Duke was just a wonderful man who got along with everyone,” Becker said. “He was really comfortable to be with and was a perfect fit to run a philanthropic nonprofit organization because his heart was in the mission.”

Hardesty recognized Perry with the President’s Distinguished Service Award during Commencement ceremonies in 2006. The F. Duke Perry Professor of Leadership Studies, which benefits the Leadership Studies program at the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, was endowed by the Foundation’s Board in his honor. He also was honored with the Distinguished West Virginian Award for his outstanding achievement and meritorious service to the state.

Before joining the WVU Foundation, Perry served as president of the George Mason University Foundation and the Florida State University Foundation during the 1990s. Perry earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from Virginia Tech, where he held several positions — including associate vice president for development — from 1967 to 1990.

Perry is survived by his wife, Judy, and two children, David and Whitney, and their families.

Funeral services for Perry are being handled by Henry Funeral Home in Staunton, Virginia.



Senior Communications Specialist
WVU Foundation

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