Sheridan barn fire victim identified as local man

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 3:24 pm on Thursday, November 15, 2012

BUSHNELL TOWNSHIP — The Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office has identified a local man who died in a barn fire in Sheridan on Oct. 15.

Sidney Joseph Perry, 30, died in the early morning barn fire at 6681 S. Sheridan Road (M-66) north of Sessions Road in Bushnell Township just south of the village of Sheridan.

Montcalm County Sheriff Bill Barnwell said the cause of the fire has not been determined due to extreme heat and damage to the barn. Multiple fire departments responded to the blaze at 2:34 a.m. Oct. 15, including Carson City, Crystal Township, Ronald Township, Sheridan and Stanton.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever know the cause or the origin of the fire,” Barnwell said. “We know that Sidney had a propensity to stay in barns or buildings and apparently he stayed there before. It was a cold night. Maybe he was trying to stay warm. We’ll probably never know.

“We’re glad to get some closure on this and we’re sorry for the family,” Barnwell added.

According to Perry’s parents, Russell and Tina Perry, their son was a loner who wandered between the Sheridan and Stanton area and often slept in barns or the forest.

Tina Perry, who lives in Tampa, Fla., said Sidney was the oldest of her four children. She said her mother, Loretta Hall, raised Sidney from age 6 months to 14 years old because Tina Perry was struggling with her own problems.

Sidney Perry was sleeping in the barn on the property where his grandmother lived and raised him until she died in 2000. The property is currently owned by Phebe Wilson, who is the retired Bushnell Township clerk and the mother of State Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan.

Tina Perry said she hadn’t seen her son in at least a year, but they stayed in touch via phone and mail.

“He was a good guy, he liked to work on the farm,” Tina Perry said of her son. “He also liked to work on bicycles. He was the kind that wandered around a lot. He kept to himself a lot.

“He didn’t deserve to die the way he did,” she added. “It was a bad way to go, but I guess God took him.”

Russell Perry, who lives in Stanton, said his son struggled with mental health issues.

“He was just a lost soul,” he said.

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