Mitchell Perey, a second-generation Lakesider, died of cancer on October 20 at the age of 74.
Born in New York, New York, he attended Bard College, a liberal arts school in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and then the City College of New York. When he turned 17, he went to Israel on a six-month work-study program to the Kibbutz Ein Ha’Shofet.
Mitchell then traveled to Beersheva, living and playing guitar at a nightclub called Histradrut Ha’acharona (Last Chance Saloon). He then lived with a Bedouin family for several months, before going on to play at nightclubs in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
At age 18, while still in Israel, Mitchell met his first wife. They moved to Paris and then New York, where they married. Mitchell got a job in international trade and worked his way up the ladder. In 1968, at age 25, he became Vice-President and General Manager of a major oil company, creating the import-export division Mitchell Metal and Mineral.
In 1970, he was run over by a cab, broke his back, and was told he would never walk again. “God loves me,” he used to say, because, with the encouragement of his nurses, he was able to walk out of the hospital.
Mitchell started a new job in international trade with a company that was one of the earliest to do business with China. In the 1980s he went into the precious metals business in El Paso, Texas. It was here that he met his second wife, and they had a daughter, Rachel, in 1985.
After moving to San Diego, California, he worked as an applications engineer for a company that helped NASA design a battery for one of the first drones.
After a second divorce, he met his current wife, Emily, in 1990. They married in 1998 and started a placement service for seniors called Dignified Living Choices, Inc. It helped place clients in non-medical residential care facilities in San Diego County. In 2009, they moved to Lakeside to help take care of Mitchell’s mother, then aged 93.
Mitchell’s parents Rose and Sam came to Lakeside in 1973 and moved into a house in Chula Vista. His father, a retired pharmacist, and his mother, a housewife, pianist and avid bridge player, supported various charities in the area and were instrumental in developing the Chapala Red Cross into the organization that it is today. Sam was part of a group of jews that eventually started the Lake Chapala Jewish Congregation.
Mitchell was also a clinical hypnotherapist. He maintained a limited practice at Lakeside, helping people address health challenges such as quitting smoking, managing weight and sleeping better. He fulfilled a lifetime dream of owning and riding beautiful horses. He has also had the unusual opportunity to learn to ride Mexican-style and to ride dancing horses.
His vaquero-style funeral on October 20 began with three horses following the hearse into the Jewish section of the Ixtlahuacan cemetery. The center horse, Mitchell’s, was riderless, with his hat, spurs and boots secured to the saddle. Flanking it were two horses ridden by dear friends. One of them danced until the funeral service began. The funeral ended with shots of tequila.
Survivors include his wife Emily Raskin Perey of Chula Vista, son Jordan Perey of North Hollywood, California and daughter Rachel Perey Ward of Riverside, California. His daughter Aviva Rosen Millan predeceased him in 2012.