This oral history interview is a project of the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The legal rights of this material remain with the Outrigger Canoe Club. Anyone wishing to reproduce it or quote at length from it should contact the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions that are not factual. A complete transcript is available below the video.
Interview by Moana McGlaughlin-Tregaskis
December 9, 2012
MMT: Today is the 9th of December 2012, it’s three o’clock in the afternoon, and we are sitting in the cabana at my house with Liz Perry (EP) to talk with us for her oral history. Also we are being videoed at the same time by Ja-Ne de Abreu (JDA), who also is Chairman of the Historical Committee.
We’ll start with the usual openings Liz; where were you born?
EP: I was born in Washington, D.C. in 1958. [December 17, 1958]
MMT: What are your parents names?
EP: My dad was Adrian Perry and my mother is Betty Petty.
MMT: Was it Rear Admiral Adrian Perry? I remember he was a very handsome man.
EP: Yes! They were kind of a Hollywood couple, those two.
MMT: Brothers? Sisters?
EP: I have an older sister, ten years older, Muffy, also an Outrigger member.
MMT: Were you born Washington because your father, Adrian Perry, was stationed there in the Navy?
EP: Yes. We came to Honolulu shortly after I was born.
MMT: Where did you go to school?
EP: I went to Punahou, kindergarten through senior year.
MMT: Are there several classmates who also are members now of the Club?
EP: Oh, yes. There are many; many.
MMT: Would you care to name some of them”
EP: I guess some of the most notorious would be Karl Heyer (IV), a former president; Walter Guild was a year ahead of me; quite a few Outrigger types.
MMT: After Punahou where did you go to college?
EP: I went to the mainland; actually I went to a number of schools. I went to the University of the Pacific in Northern California; I went to UC (University of California)-Santa Barbara, and then I also went on the Semester at Sea. It was a “Round the World” cruise. I did that twice. After my second term my father withdrew funding and I finished at the UH [University of Hawaii]. (Laughter)
MMT: Were the semesters at sea through University of California?
EP: No. Actually when I went it was the University of Colorado. It was an exchange school. The program was accredited by different schools. The two times I went it was the University of Colorado. They (the program) started at Chapman [College] and then they kind of moved their accreditation across the country so they would pull different kids into the program.
MMT: A great program.
EP: Yes, wonderful.
MMT: What degree did that program give you?
EP: I ended up with a degree in American Studies.
MMT: That’s rather broad . . .
EP: Yes, I used to say it was good for cocktail chatter.
MMT: Did it lead to something special which you did after college?
EP: No, actually I didn’t do anything in my degree; I went to the mainland and worked in television for a little while – in Los Angeles for a television show called “Games People Play”. It was kind of the first of the reality shows. And then I moved back here and kept in the same field. It was just a different kind of approach in which I did commercials – commercials on location here. It was just when the Japanese were coming and taking a lot of video for Japanese consumption.
MMT: What year was that?
EP: I’m very bad at years; I would say probably around the 1980s; somewhere in there. Maybe 1983.
MMT: About the Club – you were exposed when at Punahou, did you join as a Junior?
EP: I joined as a ten year old but I never really used the Club then much until after high school. Michele St. John got me to the Club and paddling for the novices. She was the coach at that time. And I never left.
MMT: You started paddling when you were in school?
EP: I started paddling when I was nineteen. As a kid I didn’t really go to the Club that much; I did participate in the summer program, with Tommy Holmes, and all those guys who ran the program. That was an active time, and then years later, just after high school, Martine and I ran the summer program. It was an exciting time, a fun job.
MMT: So you had early experience of running activities at the Club.
EP: Aah, I guess so, yes. That very first year that I paddled I also coached the girls crew. I really didn’t even know what I was doing but neither did the 12 year old girls, so we could fake it. (laughter)
MMT: You’ve been coaching a long time at the Club. And you’ve done some Molokai races, too?
EP: Yes. I think I’ve crossed paddling – maybe it’s 5 or 7 times; I’m not sure exactly but I really enjoyed the coaching side of it. I’ve crossed as a coach too many times to count.
MMT: Were you in some winning canoes when you were paddling?
EP: We never won. My closest finish was second place. We had a crew that wasn’t favored to win; we just were over the moon. Offshore [Canoe Club] at that time was the reigning champion. We went north and they went south and we came right in at Diamond Head and we almost stopped them. But did not.
MMT: Still exciting . . .
EP: Yes, very exciting; lots of fun.
MMT: Over the years have you served on Club committees?
EP: Yes. I served on Entertainment a number of times; quite a few years on Entertainment for a stretch there. Also Athletics for Canoe Paddling – a lot.
MMT: Tell us about your times on the Board of Directors; you’ve been on the Board several times.
EP: That was all started when I was on the Board for six years – I guess it’s now almost ten years ago. I was very young but I had been the Youth Coach.
We had a party at the Club and I perhaps had a little too much to drink. I was leaving the Club and someone in our group, as we were going down the parking lot, was honking their horn. One of the security guards came out and said, “Hey,”. I was sitting in the back of someone’s truck and I kind of said, “We don’t have to stop”, or something like that. Well, the next couple of days later I got a letter from the then-manager [Ray] Ludwig who said that I had been suspended and that I was to come to the Board.
So I took this letter down – it was a Thursday night – and the current Board was in the Board Room. And then they came out – oh, I had talked to the manager and he said that the conversation had been recorded – yes – so I was quite upset about this. So I took this to the Board and they agreed that we shouldn’t be recorded without our knowledge. And I got off scot-free. But it started me thinking about the politics of the Club – so that was really how it kind of perked my interest that I would want to be in charge of myself. That’s how it started and then I started on committees, as a first. I think I was thereafter Club Co-Captain, and then after that went on the Board.
MMT: Do you remember what year you were Club Co-Captain?
EP: Years are not good for me, but it might have been in the ’90s. [1992-1993]
MMT: During your years on the Board were there discussions about limiting the number of Club members? We never exceed 5,000 and there are reasons for this.
EP: Oh, well you know those quotas have been set; I think they were set rather arbitrarily so we use them as guidelines. They’re not really hard and fast. I think it kind of depends on when you need to raise revenue. One of the best ways to do it is to take in new members. So I think it kind of ebbs and flows with the economic times. Certainly after the lease negotiations we wanted to get some more new, vibrant members.
MMT: Were you involved in those special negotiations?
EP: No, I was not on the Board at that time. It was my in-between years.
EP: Yes, 2006. I actually started, again, for my second term, on the 100th year of the Club  which I thought was a great reason to rejoin. And my dear friend Tom McTigue was going to be the president; so it sounded like a fun time to get back involved.
MMT: With all your activities at the Club have you had time for any other community activities?
EP: Yes, I’ve been involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs, with a group that I’ve been involved with through the years; also Hale Olo which is a sanctuary for abused women in Kailua. I’ve been a part of that for many years. I guess those are my two key community activities.
MMT: In addition to all that you do at the Club, that’s a whole lot. Do you want to mention a church?
EP: No, I have no church affiliation, just spirituality.
MMT: Tell me about your catering business.
EP: Oh well, let’s see, that was ’91 I guess. I do remember that date. Conne Sutherland and I, both looking for something to do, enjoyed parties – I always said that although I majored in American Studies, the thing I did best at college was partying – so it was only natural that I then rolled into being a party planner. It wasn’t really a catering business as much as event planning although we did do some food – from soups to nuts. Conne, my business partner, still does it. That event planning led to running the Entertainment Committee for some years. I guess that was in the 90s. We had that great Hollywood party, and other events.
MMT: Tell us about awards you’ve received.
EP: Awards? What kind of awards?
MMT: Any kind.
EP: I have the Winged “O”. That’s a big award and I was very proud to get that.
MMT: Yes, it is. And?
EP: Well, there are the different Molokais and different state championships, and things like that.
MTT: Your wall is lined with paddles?
EP: My wall is lined with paddles. Many medals. They now pretty much find their way into the ashtray in my car; I have so many now.
JDA: Can you tell us any rascally events?
EP: Well, I was with my husband, after a night of Bobby McGee’s, which was a nightclub right next door to the Club; it was late at night and we had not finished partying completely, so – I don’t want to get them in trouble – but Rosemary Townsend and Doug Specter, and my teacher-husband and I came over and it was late at night; back in those days the Club wasn’t very secure. Things did go on then, a little looser – and we ended up taking a canoe, taking a four-man canoe, and paddling it over to Tongg’s, which as you know is just next door, catching waves. My parents actually lived right on Tongg’s at that time.
MMT: They saw you? (Laughter)
EP: All the lights went on. We were seen. Michael, my husband, was in the Navy at the time and he wanted to know: Was my father really an admiral? I had to break it to him that he was – anyway, we returned with the canoe with the police meeting us. Once they figured out that we actually were members and hadn’t really done any kind of damage, we were let off the hook.
MMT: What was your husband’s name?
EP: Michael Dugan.
MMT: Is he still in the Navy?
EP: We did – we moved – that’s actually why I had a break in my service at the Club, because we moved to the mainland for five years, in the Navy. Pensacola, and Corpus Christi.
MMT: He retired?
EP: Yes. I always think of the Club fondly because it introduced me to Michael. And yes, we went our separate ways. It’s funny – I just saw him last year. Eighteen years this year. He was here; he has had a really great life. He has traveled the world and done everything – and I have lived and stayed in the apartment that we lived in when we were married, and still going to the Outrigger. And that’s my life. That’s where I feel great. We understood why we went our separate ways; we were always just kind of different people. Still it was great, it was wonderful.
MMT: Thank you Liz for talking with us. Your Outrigger coaching and stories are a rich part of our Club’s history and will go into our archives. It has been a treat for us to talk with you. Mahalo.
EP: Yes, thank you.