Gazette: Lilly was ‘not afraid to be herself’

Today’s Janesville Gazette (Thursday, Dec. 11) contained a feature story on Lilly Perry, who passed away early Tuesday, Dec. 9. She was 12. Her obituary, which contains memorial service information, is below the story.

Story reposted here with permission:

Deb Eungard, Phoenix Middle School reading specialist, adds a few patches to the paper quilt staff and students made for Lilly’s family. Click pick for more photos in our gallery.

Delavan girl was not afraid to be herself

December 10, 2014

DELAVAN—In middle school, belonging is everything.

Lilly Perry

The popular girls, the athletes, the smart kids and even the proudly disobedient all form their own groups, supporting those who are in—for the moment—and isolating those who are out.

Lilly Perry wasn’t like that.

“She transcended all the groups,” Phoenix Middle School Principal Hank Schmelz said.

Perry, 12, died unexpectedly Sunday from an unspecified medical condition believed to be related to asthma.

Survivors include her mother, Heidi Ecklund-Perry; four siblings, Quincy, Isaiah and Tally Perry and Keanna Ecklund; and an assortment of kids, coaches, teachers, parents and friends who remember her kindness and smile.

“The most common phrase I heard from kids was, ‘She was the nicest person,’” Schmelz said. “Athletes and nonathletes, the most popular kids to the least popular, across racial boundaries–she crossed all those lines.”

Who was Lilly?

She loved the colors green and purple.

She was Student of the Month for October.

She adored going to school dances.

Lilly loved sports and played football with Delavan Youth Football’s Junior Comets.

In her school picture, Lilly is wearing her football jersey.

“She was good, too,” Schmelz said.

Lilly would tackle a boy and then help him back up, saying, “Try again.”

On the team’s Facebook page, one of her coaches called her a “inspiration and a leader for our seventh-grade team.”

Lilly’s football prowess was honored in the paper quilt her classmates made in her memory this week.

Each middle school student was given a square of paper to create his or her own tribute. The teachers assembled the quilt, and it will be presented to the family at services Saturday.

One square reads, “I remembered the time I played football with you and you juked me out.”

Lilly was a running back. To “juke” someone out means to dodge a tackle with elegant footwork.

Many of the squares included the number of Lilly’s jersey, No. 2.

One square reads, “You are our # 2. You will always be missed.”

Bridget McCarthy’s daughter, Avery, attended Delavan Christian School with Lilly.

Avery died in a car accident in 2012.

“Lilly was audacious,” McCarthy said. “Other kids try to force themselves into a box or into a peer group. Lilly was bold in who she was.”

Again, the quilt squares tell the story.

One reads, “Lilly was very funny, and she made me laugh.”

Another reads, “You were a smart, funny, strong friend”

And one simply reads, “Nice” in letters that filled the whole block.

Lillianna “Lilly” E. Perry, Delavan, WI (2002-2014)

December 11, 2014

Lillianna “Lilly” E. Perry


January 14, 2002 – December 9, 2014

Lillianna “Lilly” E. Perry, age 12, of Delavan, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, at Mercy Walworth in Lake Geneva. She was born in Elkhorn, on Jan. 14, 2002, to Heidi Ecklund and Quincy Perry. She was an amazing girl who stood up for the underdog and was kind and passionate to other people. Lilly was a huge football fan and played football for the Rising Comets for three years. She also enjoyed fishing, basketball, being outdoors, and fixing things.

Lilly is survived by her parents; five siblings: Iesha Perry of Burlington, Keanna Ecklund of Delavan, Quincy Perry of Delavan, Natallya Perry of Delavan, and Isaiah Perry of Delavan; paternal grandfather, John Perry; step grandmother, Mary Ecklund; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Lilly was preceded in death by her grandparents, Marlene Perry, John Ecklund, and Linda Andresen.

A Celebration of Lilly’s Life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, at DELAVAN-DARIEN HIGH SCHOOL, 150 Cumming Street, Delavan. A Public Visitation will be held from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday at the DELAVAN-DARIEN HIGH SCHOOL. A Memorial Fund is being established in Lilly’s name at Community Bank in Delavan. MONROE FUNERAL HOME is assisting the family. Please visit us at


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324 Beloit St. Delavan, WI 53115
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