The Honorable Michael J. Perezous, 80

August 14, 2016

The Honorable Michael J. Perezous, 80, passed away peacefully Sunday evening, August 14, 2016, at Moravian Manor in Lititz after a courageous battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Judge Perezous was born, educated, and lived his life in Lancaster, PA. Raised in a multi-generational, Greek-immigrant household three blocks south of Penn Square in a vibrant Greek and Italian community on Beaver Street, he was a life-long member of the Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. In 1957 he married the former Dolores Xakellis, a fellow member of J.P. McCaskey (“Lancaster High”) Class of 1954 and a Sunday school classmate. Throughout his life, Judge Perezous was an example of hard-work and dedication. He worked his way through college and law school, graduating from Franklin and Marshall in 1958 and Temple University Law School in 1961. He believed that the jobs he had, such as stocking shelves at ACME markets, working on the factory floor at Armstrong, substitute teaching in Philadelphia-area schools, and selling men’s clothing, provided diverse experiences that helped prepare him for a legal career spanning over 20 years as a trial attorney and then 25 years as a respected Judge on the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas.

The only child of the late John and Lucille Perezous of Lancaster, PA, Judge Perezous was raised by his maternal grandmother and spoke only Greek when he began school. Although he quickly learned English, early struggles made him appreciate the value of education, fostered an interest in reading, and set him on the path to becoming a jurist respected for the logic and clarity of his writing. After completing law school, Judge Perezous returned to Lancaster and completed a preceptorship with local attorney George C. Xakellis. He then briefly became a sole practitioner before forming a partnership with his former preceptor, and fellow attorney John Mongiovi. The firm Xakellis, Perezous, and Mongiovi, (dubbed “the United Nations” by Judge Perezous), endured for nearly 20 years until Judge Perezous’s election to the bench in 1981.

During his 45-year professional career as a lawyer and jurist, Judge Perezous was recognized by his peers with an “AV” rating, which represents the highest level of expertise and achievement as a trial lawyer. In addition to representing private clients as a criminal defense attorney and maintaining a general civil practice, he was at various times the solicitor for West Hempfield Township, the Annunciation Orthodox Church, and the Lancaster County Institution District. He also represented both the city and the county of Lancaster as an assistant solicitor. After his initial election for a 10-year judicial term, Judge Perezous was retained by Lancaster County voters for two additional 10-year terms and served until mandatory retirement from the bench at age 70 in 2006, after which he became a Senior Judge. At the retirement dinner honoring him for his 25 years of exemplary public service, a speaker discussed how well he displayed every aspect of judicial temperament, as well as a “gentleness and pleasantness that is rarely seen.” Others have simply noted that he was not just a gentleman, he was truly a “gentle” man who touched the lives of all who met him.

Beyond his stellar legal career, he was a devoted and loving husband. Having known Dolores since childhood through their common membership in a closely-knit, church-centered Greek community, he attended different city schools than she did until both began attending Lancaster High. Dolores finished slightly ahead of him near the top of their class, and family lore has it that Judge Perezous’s first documented display of the common sense for which he later became known as a lawyer and judge was in never disputing their class rank. With a twinkle in the blue eyes that he inherited from his yiayia, Judge Perezous enjoyed stating that he married the girl of his dreams despite being a shy boy from Beaver Street. They first dated through the efforts of a mutual friend during one of Dolores’s trips home from her freshman year studies at Albright College. Theirs was a traditional marriage. But in the words of Judge Perezous, he may have presided over the courtroom, but his beloved “Dee” ruled everywhere else—a recipe for nearly 60 years of marital harmony.

Judge Perezous was a dedicated and active community member. He served two terms on the parish council of the Annunciation Church and, together with Dolores, sang in the church choir throughout his life. He also contributed his pleasant tenor voice to a costumed role as one of the Three Kings for many years during the annual Courthouse Carol Sing and to the skits presented at the annual Lancaster Bar Association Banquet (then known as the “Blackstonian Blackmail”). Judge Perezous was among the initial group of mentors in the F&M College Spaulding Leadership Program from its inception in 1990 through 2005. He received a friendship award in 1996 from a delegation of elected officials from his ancestral island of Kos, Greece and, shortly before retiring, was presented the Distinguished Alumni Award, 2006, from the McCaskey Alumni Association.

Besides being a voracious reader, Judge Perezous enjoyed sailing his catamaran on the Susquehanna and nearby lakes, building model ships, and playing chess. For many years, he joined other tennis-loving Greeks for weekly doubles matches. He and Dolores enjoyed traveling and counted among their favorite tourist destinations France, Spain, Italy, and Greece. They also visited the Philippines and Denmark for a family wedding and birth of a grandchild. In later years, they enjoyed summer vacations to the South Jersey beaches of Wildwood Crest and Avalon with their children and grandchildren, and more private getaways to Bermuda, Anguilla, and other Caribbean Islands. As a student of history and as a child of World War II, Judge Perezous was moved while visiting the fortress-island of Corregidor in Manila Bay and recalling its significance. He was proud to have climbed all 509 steps up to the observation level of the south tower of Cologne Cathedral in Germany. Until he entered Moravian Manor in January of this year, one of Judge Perezous’s greatest pleasures was attending his grandchildren’s activities: soccer, baseball, softball, and basketball games; swimming competitions; concerts and recitals.

Besides his wife Dolores, Judge Perezous is survived by two sons, Jonathan Perezous, Esq. and Mark Perezous, M.D, their wives and children. Jonathan and his wife, Janet, of Potomac Falls, VA, have two daughters: Janika, 13 and Micaela, 9. Mark and his wife, Stephanie, of Lititz, PA, have four children: Michael, 19; Kyle, 18; Brandon, 16; and Demetra, 12.

A viewing will be held on Thursday, August 18, 2016 from 5:00-8:00 p.m., with a Trisagion Service at 7pm at Charles F. Snyder, Jr. Funeral Home & Crematory, 3110 Lititz Pike, Lititz, PA 17543. The viewing will resume on Friday, August 19, 2016 at the Annunciation Orthodox Church, 64 Hershey Ave., Lancaster, PA, from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m., followed immediately by funeral services at 10:30am at the Church with Rev. Dr. Alexander Goussetis officiating. A funeral cortege will depart for a final interment ceremony at Conestoga Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Judge Perezous’s memory to the American Parkinson Disease Association, Parkinson Plaza, 135 Parkinson Ave., Staten Island, NY 10305-1425.

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Condolences to the Family

December 24, 2021

He was once my attorney back in the early 70’s. He was a good attorney, and was a good man. RIP 

August 20, 2016

  To the Perezous family,
My thoughts and prayers are with you during this sad time. Though it has been years, I vividly recall memories of Judge Perezous’ calm and kind demeanor, all the more impressive now that I am a father. May your treasure chest of memories help you endure his loss and solidify his wonderful legacy. 
All my sympathy, 
Bryan Huber and family

August 19, 2016

I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Prayers for all. God bless you.  Comfort and peace be with you all. 
Brian and Danielle Pannebecker

August 18, 2016

Aman of true Character. Stan Walter

August 18, 2016

Please accept my condolences upon the passing of Judge Perezous. I will always remember him as an outstanding lawyer and jurist – possessed of personal kindness and humility….Michael McDonald

August 18, 2016

Our deepest sympathy for the Perezous Family. May his memory be eternal.
Joe & Melanie Gargano

August 18, 2016

Dear Dolores and family,
Mike was one of the finest people we have come to know growing up in the Greek-American community of Lancaster. He deserves all the respect and accolades he has earned throughout his wonderful life with you. His legacy will live on in his children and grandchildren, and you have every reason to be proud of this good and decent man. We will remember him always with great fondness.
Nikita and Diana Zervanos

August 17, 2016

I want to send my condolence to the family and friends of the last Judge Perezous. Judge Perezous was a fine man on the stand. Though, the experienece I had with him was short but impacted my life in so may different ways. He listened to the family of the victim and understood the law. 
May he have peace and harmony within the next life.
My deepest sympathoy’s to the family. 
Christine Spencer-Hassel 

August 17, 2016

Such sad news when I learned of Judge Perezous passing. As a police officer for 43 years our paths crossed often. Sometimes as a defense attorney and later as a judge I always found him to be the consummate professional. We would often talk about our children and tennis. I always enjoyed our conversations and was always proud to have known such a great and wonderful man. My sincerest condolences to his family. Our community is a better place for having him among us
Bill Roberts

August 17, 2016

Although a couple of years older, I have known Mike almost my whole life, as I am also a Beaver St. native. Mike asked me to take over his paper route when he was to enter college. I readily agreed because his was larger than mine. As a bell telephone man I put the original phones in the new house in Rohrerstown in the late 60’s. When I last saw him at the mennonite home and I saw his eyes light up when I mentioned Beaver St. He gave my Daughter-law the oath of citizenship as she is from Peru. We saw each other and had coffee together in the coffee shop. I will remember him always as a gentleman and with great fondness and respect. I am deeply saddened by his passing.    Ron. Benedict

August 17, 2016

So very sorry to hear of the passing of this dear man. He was a great person who served as an inspiration to many who knew him and even those who only encountered him in his service to the judicial system. He remains a shining example of decency and fairness. His passion for his work was only eclipsed by his passionate embrace of his friends and family.
The obituary was a moving encapsulation of his many passions and accomplishments. What a great tribute to his life, one that his grandchildren can reflect upon with awe and amazement of the man that adored them immensely.
Love and sympathy,
The Heim Family

August 17, 2016

Judge was one of the kindest men I knew.I respected him so much as a client and Judge. He always made me smile, and had a smile on his face. I enjoyed being his hair stylist for 14 years, and talking with him. I will miss him.

August 17, 2016

Our deepest condolences to the family, from all the staff of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas.

August 17, 2016

My sincerest sympathy to the family of Judge Perezous. I knew him only as the Judge in my Grandaughter, Dixie-Anna’s, murder tria, but he made an impression on me that will last my entire lifetime. 
In that short time, I was struck by his compassion while on the bench. As we were giving our victim impact statements, I made eye contact with him during the entire time. I will never forget the look in his eyes and the feeling I got as he looked back into mine. He resonated a calm, sincere understanding that reassured me that he truly cared about every word and feeling that we, as a family, were trying to express.
I will always be grateful to Judge Perezous for giving my Grandaughter the justice she deserved. May he walk the streets of Heaven, and sail it’s waters in glory.
He was a great man, and the world is a little bit emptier because of his depature. 

August 16, 2016

Wonderful words about my Godfather, Nouno Mike.  He always showed great respect to everyone and set an excellent example of a life well-lived.  Love and Sympathy to Nouna Dolores and family. Love, Gina 

Thursday, August 18, 2016
5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Charles F. Snyder Funeral Home & Crematory
3110 Lititz Pike
Lititz, PA 17543
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Friday, August 19, 2016
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Annunciation Orthodox Church
64 Hershey Ave.
Lancaster, PA
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Friday, August 19, 2016
10:30 AM
Annunciation Orthodox Church
64 Hershey Ave.
Lancaster, PA
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