Details of Former Hartford Mayor Carrie Saxon Perry’s suspicious death surface


Lionel Medina, Staff Writer

The secrecy of the death involving a former Hartford Mayor Carrie Saxon Perry has gone under the radar of public attention for almost a year now.

Public officials and even close friends were also left uninformed and unaware of the news.

Thirman L. Milner, the first African American mayor in New England who stood by Perry from the beginning was among the many people left uninformed and was only recently told of her death.

Milner commented that Perry’s relatives wanted to keep her death a secret, but wishes that he and the city had been notified so that they could have honored her memory.

Word of Perry’s passing surfaced recently on Facebook, with very few details.

“If she was dead there’s no reason not to let the public know, she should have had proper burial service, even if she was cremated, they should have just let City Hall know, let me know, let her friends know,” Milner stated.

She was cremated five days after her death in a crematorium in Berlin without a prior autopsy.

A long-time neighbor on Imlay Street, Nancy Gustafon, also expressed her grievances, stating that she had not seen Perry in a few years.

According to Gustafon, Perry was gone completely when her health was failing and required the assistance of a home health aide.

Other neighbors heard that she relocated to a nursing home but no one knew where.

“Someone would periodically say that they’d heard she’d died and I’d diligently look for an obituary but never saw anything,” Gustafson said. “It’s very unfortunate that she just disappeared that way.

It’s very sad. She was a special lady.”

There wasn’t a provided explanation for the notification delay.

No obituary was ever published and her surviving siblings have not spoken of her death. The next of kin as listed on her death certificate is her son James Perry. She also has a sister Beth Perry, whose last known address was in Colorado.

Court records reviewed by the Hartford Courant show that Perry, or members of her family, seemed to be having some financial problems in 2017 and 2018.

A foreclosure notice was filed by a bank on her longtime home at 73 Imlay Street in May 2017. Court records from that case show a debt of more than $200,000 on a mortgage and hadn’t paid nearly $10,000 in city taxes the three previous years.

No one from the family ever appeared in court for the foreclosure case and a judge issued a default ruling on the bank’s behalf in August 2018.

The mortgage company then consequently filed an eviction notice against Perry, her sister Beth and her two sons, Barron and James, in October 2018.

Once again no one appeared and a judge in Hartford Housing Court approved the eviction on Nov. 21, 2018, one day before she died in Waterbury.

City records show that Perry wasn’t eligible for a pension even though she was mayor from 1987-1993.

Myocardial infarction, a heart attack, and kidney and heart disease were concluded as the cause of death.

Perry’s final days took place in Waterbury Hospital. The death certificate indicates that she was at the end stage of renal disease, which is chronic kidney disease.

At the time she was 87. Perry was the first African American woman to be elected mayor of one of the major cities of the Northeast region and served from 1987 to 1993.

State Treasurer Shawn Wooden provided a eulogistic statement of Perry highlighting her invaluable contributions to the community and leading the way in fostering values of leadership, integrity, and the relentless work required to make positive change: “A fierce, outspoken and passionate champion for the City she loved, Mayor Perry understood the City’s potential and the potential of its people, especially those often marginalized in society.”