Edward Owen Perry III loved anything that would challenge his competitive spirit - be it fishing, finance or forestry.
The Augusta native, who died Friday, earned his first degree in chemistry, graduating cum laude from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va.
But it was forestry - and the stewardship of natural resources - that ultimately lured Mr. Perry into a lifelong career that included 27 years with Canal Wood Corp. before his retirement in 2000.
"Owen was a natural leader - there's no other way to put it," said Jim Doescher, the executive director of the Georgia Forestry Association. "When he ended up in forestry, he became a leader in that industry, too."
GFA, a trade association for Georgia's forestry community, honored Mr. Perry this year as the recipient of its prized Wise Owl Award.
"It's the highest award that we have - given to someone who has been a shaker, a mover and a leader for some time," Mr. Doescher said. "It's given to someone everybody in the state knows - and knows well."
The same relentless dedication that earned him such respect in business carried over into his social life and hobbies, too, said Larry Moss, a friend, neighbor and fishing partner for 18 years.
"He was an excellent fisherman. He was intense. He knew where to find them and how to scout them out," Mr. Moss said.
Mr. Perry also held great respect for the elusive redfish that prowl the flats and creeks near Fripp Island, S.C., where he caught them with light tackle or flyfishing gear.
"He liked the fish that were challenging, like redfish and trout," Mr. Moss said. "He loved those marshes. Sometimes the fish are in just a foot of water and you really need stealth to catch them."
Two weeks ago, Mr. Moss accompanied his friend on what proved to be their final outing - and one of their best.
"We went down to Fripp on a Wednesday, not really knowing it would be his last time," he recalled. "Owen fished hard, like he always did. We boated two dozen fish that day."
Ironically, other boats in the creeks that day came home empty-handed. "We caught the fish," Mr. Moss said. "That day was a gift from God."
Mr. Perry also enjoyed golf and hunting - and was a nationally known and respected collector and scholar of antique fishing tackle.
"Owen always wanted to be involved," said family friend Dave Dodge. "All those things that he loved - whether it was his career or his hobbies - he was extremely passionate about it, and you could always be sure he would give it everything he had."
Survivors include his wife of 31 years, Betty Brand Perry; and daughters Laura Claire Perry and Elizabeth O'Brien Perry, both of Atlanta; and brother and sister-in-law Patrick H. Perry Jr. and Marie D. Perry of Augusta.
The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Monday at The Church of the Good Shepherd. The family will receive friends at Platt's Funeral Home, Crawford Avenue, from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Reach Robert Pavey at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 119, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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