Wednesday March 24, 2010

PITTSFIELD -- The honorable Judge Paul E. Perachi was there when Berkshire Juvenile Court was started more than a decade ago, and now his visage will be a part of the court for generations to come.

A portrait of Perachi was unveiled at the North Street court on Tuesday, as friends, family and former colleagues filled the courtroom to pay tribute to the man whose professional life centered on advocating for children.

"It's pretty exciting," said Perachi as he took in the portrait. "I've been so blessed to be able to work with kids all these years."

Perachi, 70, retired from the court last year after 15 years as a justice and 12 as the first justice in the juvenile court. His life of mentoring children covered a wide range of jobs, including teaching and coaching at St. Joseph's High School in Pittsfield, and serving as principal of Lenox Memorial High School for nearly 20 years.

Judge Dan Swords, current first justice for the Berkshire Juvenile Court, praised Perachi, saying his "enthusiasm and love for the position" was infectious.

"Everyone surely misses Judge Perachi and the terrific guidance that he provided to this court," said Swords.

Perachi was instrumental in a number of programs aimed at helping troubled youths, and Jack E. Houghton, president of the Berkshire Bar Association, said the former justice filled his role admirably.

"Everybody has role models, but very few people are role models themselves -- and that is Judge Perachi," said Houghton.

Perachi's former co-worker Charlotte Bolus also presented him with a quilt at the ceremony which featured well-wishes from numerous people that had attended his retirement party last year.

"I admire him," said Bolus, a case coordinator in the probation department. "He had a difficult job to do and he did it beautifully."

To reach Trevor Jones: tjones@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 528-3660.