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Thomas "Pep" Perrella

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Thomas Louis "Pep" Perrella, a schools caterer and former Archbishop Curley soccer coach and player, died of pancreatic cancer Sept. 25 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. He was 59 and lived in Overlea.

The Baltimore native grew up on Kentucky Avenue. A childhood baseball coach named him "Pepper" or "Pep" after Pepper Martin, the 1930s St. Louis Cardinals base stealer. Before graduating from Archbishop Curley High School in 1970, he scored a soccer goal to secure the school's first Maryland Scholastic Association championship.

He earned a degree in accounting from what was then Loyola College, where he also played soccer and helped win a Mason Dixon Championship.

He worked in Ocean City restaurants and graduated from what is now the Baltimore International College. He also took a course at Le Cordon Bleu London. Mr. Perrella opened a restaurant, Pepper's Cafe, near Herring Run Park in the 1980s.

He also owned Pepperoni's Pizza in Hamilton before developing his catering business, which provided lunches to numerous Roman Catholic schools, including the School of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

Mr. Perrella initially coached junior varsity soccer at the old Towson Catholic High School and went on to coach varsity soccer at Archbishop Curley from 1987 to 1999. He led the school to three championships. He was inducted into the Maryland Oldtimers' Soccer Hall of Fame.

"His players loved him," said the Rev. Joseph Beniciewicz, Curley's president. "He took a genuine interest in them. Pep was also a generous man and gave to people without looking for anything in return."

Mr. Perrella was a Caroline Center board member and helped train single mothers in workforce skills.

After his diagnosis with cancer, friends and soccer community members honored him at a bull roast earlier this year.

Survivors include two daughters, Gabrielle Elizabeth Perrella and Ivy Marie Perrella, both of Baltimore; his mother, Violet Wisniewski, and her husband, Leonard Wisniewski, both of Hickory; a sister, Ruth Perrella Barker of Timonium; two brothers, John A. Perrella of Baldwin and James S. Perrella of Hickory; and a companion, Elizabeth Coleman of Columbia. His marriage ended in divorce.

A Mass was celebrated Oct. 1 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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