In memory: Perry Ragouzis

Perry N. Ragouzis, 96, of Fort Collins, passed away peacefully in his home on March 10, after a distinguished, influential and vibrant ninety-six years of living.

Perry was born on July 26, 1925, to Nicholas Ragouzis and Angeline (Dremas) Ragouzis in Chicago, Illinois. After graduating from Lane Technical High School in Chicago, he joined the United States Coast Guard where he served with honor in the South Pacific during World War II. Upon his return to the United States following the war, he pursued a degree in physics at Northern Illinois State. After taking an art class he changed his major to art in his second semester. The following year he pursued his passion for art at the University of Illinois—a decision that changed the course of his life. One of the most significant changes happened when, in 1949, Perry met Dorothy, a fellow art major at the university. They were married in 1950 and went on to have two children, Pam and Tom.

In 1950 he graduated and began working as a junior high and high school art teacher in Champaign/Urbana, Illinois, while pursuing his masters degree. Four years later, the family moved to Jackson, Michigan, where he became the art coordinator for the public schools and assisted the superintendent in school plant planning. Perry completed his PhD in art education and administration from the University of Minnesota in 1964. He accepted the position as chairman of the Colorado State University Art Department in 1966. Under his leadership, the department grew in size and reputation. Through his persistence and drive, a new state-of-the-art building that brought all visual arts instruction into a single structure was designed and constructed. During his tenure at CSU he was instrumental in developing a visiting contemporary artist program, beginning a studies abroad program and served on the Denver Art Museum board of directors. Perry retired in 1995 after being involved in art education and the arts in Colorado for more than forty years.

Perry was a lifelong magician and member of the Prestidigitators of Fort Collins. Over the course of his life he used magic to entertain and delight everyone from Pacific Islanders being transported back to their home islands on his ship during WWII, to friends and family at parties and celebrations! He was a modern-day renaissance man who knew how to make anyone and everyone feel special. His interest in people and openness to ideas made interactions with him special. His accomplishments and legacy are not simply the buildings and programs he initiated and developed—the sincere and meaningful conversations he had enhanced the lives of everyone who interacted with him.

Perry was fond of finding the beauty and humanity in those around him. Doctors, lawyers, plumbers and electricians, artists, secretaries, coworkers and colleagues, clerks and waitstaff, all received the same attention. It might be their smile, or heritage, their clothing or a tattoo! He was inquisitive, asking the people he knew and met about the things he noticed about them. He was interested in what made their lives unique and provided them an opportunity to share their story—enriching his life as well as those to whom he posed his questions. It’s a legacy worth emulating.

Perry was preceded in death by his parents Nicholas and Angeline, and his brothers, Thomas (Tom) and William (Bill). He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, his two children, Pam and Tom, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Honoring his wishes, no memorial services will be held. If you would like to honor his memory, please consider a donation in his name to Pathways Hospice of Fort Collins, the Denver Art Museum or the Fort Collins Museum of Art.