John M. Perritt, Jr., 18, carpenter’s helper, attempted to save Vernon N. Thornton from drowning, Orange Park, Florida, July 30, 1969. While working on a bridge, Thornton, 19, carpenter’s helper, fell 80 feet into the St. Johns River and began floundering in the deep water. Perritt, 18, carpenter’s helper, who was working at the same height, removed his boots and jumped into the river, being slightly stunned by the impact. He swam to Thornton, who then was beneath the surface. Three times Perritt submerged, each time attempting to aid Thornton. On each occasion, Thornton grasped Perritt and struggled with him. When Thornton sank from sight, Perritt made a vain attempt to locate him. Perritt, by then very tired, was aided into a boat which had arrived. The body of Thornton later was recovered by dragging.
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John M. Perritt, Jr. of Fleming Island, Fla., died on Aug. 26, 2020, at the age of 69. Perritt was a proud member of the Orange Park High School Class of 1969. He subsequently earned his bachelor of science degree from his beloved Florida State University, class of 1973. Perritt also earned a master’s degree in business administration from Southern Illinois University in 1988. He also earned his credentials as a certified public accountant in 1988. Perritt honorably served in the U.S. Air Force and the Florida Air National Guard, retiring as a lieutenant colonel after 24 years of service.
Perritt’s career with Northwest Airlines and Delta Airlines spanned more than 30 years and allowed him to travel the world. He retired in January 2015 as a captain of the A320 airliner.
Among his many achievements, Perritt was a loving husband, father and stepfather. He often referred to his wife, Lorraine, as the love of his life.
Perritt was an Eagle Scout, an avid Seminole Booster Club supporter, a first dan black belt in Tang Soo Do, and a recipient of the Air Force Air Medal, as well as a Carnegie Medal awardee.
Perritt was preceded in death by his father, John M. Perritt, Sr. He was survived by his wife, Lorraine M. Perritt; mother, Ann Corlew; son, John H. Perritt; stepson, Michael Field (Caron); his chocolate lab, Katie, and silver lab, Blu; sister, Suzanne Perritt Cravey (Randy), brother, James Scott Perritt; nephew, Jacob Cravey (Chelsea) and their children, Elinor and Baker; brothers-in-law, Kevin (Lorie) and James (Tracy) McCoy; and sisters-in-law, Carol Willard and Deborah Christian (Ernie).
He was buried in St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church Cemetery.
(Edited from an obituary published on the website for the Broadus-Raines Funeral Home in Green Cove Springs, Fla.)