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Unique West Virginian — and W&L Alum

Back in 2012 when the Charleston Gazette wrote a review of the book by Washington and Lee alumnus Perry Mann, here is the way he was described in the lead paragraph:

“Hinton lawyer-thinker-farmer-writer-philosopher-teacher-father-veteran-iconoclast-rebel-reformer-progressive-curmudgeon Perry Mann is a unique West Virginian.”

Perry received a bachelor’s degree from W&L in 1949 and then received his law degree from the University in 1962.

He turned 92 this past March. An attorney in practice with his daughter in the Hinton firm of Mann and Mann, Perry is renowned for his essays that have appeared regularly in the weekly Nicholas Chronicle and occasionally in the Charleston Gazette.

His book, “Mann & Nature,” is a collection of 30 of his essays, which were characterized as “poetic tributes to the quiet nobility of working the land, enjoying the forest, and feeling the serenity of it all” by the Gazette’s reviewer.

You can sample some of Perry’s essays on his website: perryemann.com. As he explains on the site, he attended W&L on the GI Bill after serving four years in the Army Air Corps. At W&L, he notes, he met “Plato, Tolstoy, Dickens, et al.” Originally a school teacher in Virginia, he was fired for writing letters-to-the-editor in opposition to segregation. That’s when he came back to W&L for his law degree.

You can purchase Perry’s book on the publishers website: Kettle Moraine Publishing Co.

Here’s just a taste from an essay titled “New York Watches Iowa Corn Grow.”

“The Associated Press reports a camera focused day and night on an Iowa cornfield since May 17 has captured the attention of thousands of Web watchers who are ‘fascinated by the sight of the cornstalks getting taller with each passing day and have been e-mailing their appreciation.’ A teacher in New Jersey uses the CornCam Web to teach her students about farm life. And a publisher in New York says the view of the corn growing is the rage among his co-workers. As cheerleaders they recite encouragement: ‘ Go, Corn! All of New York City is pulling for you.’

“It is well they do pull for the corn, for without it and all else Iowa and other farm states grow, the Big Apiple would starve or have to roam the countryside in armed bands to forage at their peril.”

If you know any W&L alumni who would be great profile subjects, tell us about them! Nominate them for a web profile.