Dan Perrino lived a long life with a song in his heart, one that put a spring in the steps of those around him.
A University of Illinois and community institution, Mr. Perrino died Aug. 17 at age 91. We will not see his like again.
Where does one begin in recounting such a long, full and generous life?
Best known as the founder of the Medicare 7, 8 or 9 Dixieland jazz ensemble, he was a professor of music, administrator, mentor, friend and hail fellow well met to many thousands of people who have made their way through this community since Mr. Perrino joined the university faculty in 1960.
Small in stature, genial in demeanor, generous by spirit and skilled from training, Mr. Perrino was an energetic faculty member and administrator. Constantly trying to make students more comfortable and educational opportunities better, he used the force of his personality and the strength of his ideas to lay the groundwork for progress.
Mr. Perrino used his musical talent not just for entertainment, although there was plenty of that, but to build bridges among different people.
Medicare 7, 8 or 9 was a product of that effort. Formed on the spur of the moment in the late 1960s, Medicare was Perrino's method of trying to establish common ground between faculty members and students on the UI's overheated campus. His idea worked and then some. Medicare 7, 8 or 9 subsequently became a staple of alumni group gatherings across the country. The band, with Perrino on the saxophone, routinely performed locally.
Many years earlier, assigned to the Pacific Theater in the aftermath of World War II, then-Army Capt. Perrino organized a dance band to entertain American troops and the defeated and dispirited Japanese.
Music was his life. It helped make his life full and rich. Best of all, Mr. Perrino used it to enrich the lives of so many others.