About Shirley Perry - My Life As A Spy

Shirley Perry grew up in a small town in Illinois where she walked to school every day and on Saturdays walked along the railroad tracks to confirmation class, taught by her grandfather, a Lutheran minister. She went to high school in Alton, IL, graduating as co-valedictorian, and won a scholarship to Washington University in St. Louis where she was active in the theatre.

Armed with a Phi Beta Kappa key after graduation, Shirley was off to Washington, DC, and service with the CIA! Soon after training she was sent into the field, to Vienna, Austria, where the CIA was gearing up for the Cold War against the Soviets. This easternmost outpost of Allied intelligence became a prime battleground in the fight with espionage agents swarming all over that international city. It was an exciting and demanding time and she had a role in the recruitment of the first Soviet double agent! There was the night she spent under guard in a Soviet military installation and the time she undertook a nocturnal crossing of a simulated border, complete with guard dogs and guns. These are among several other singular CIA- related experiences. Even her honeymoon was overshadowed by a travel ban due to intense Soviet intelligence activity and very real security concerns!

But her post-CIA life continued to be adventurous. She returned to university and earned an MBA, worked as the senior political and economic officer at the Canadian Consulate General in Boston and later with Quintiles, a pharmacoeconomic company in Cambridge, MA. Active in the woman's movement, Shirley was appointed a Commissioner on the Massachusetts Governor's Commission on the Status of Women. When her husband, Robert Perry, was sent by the Bank of Boston to open a branch in Luxembourg, she and their two small children, Andrea and Rob, moved to Luxembourg City where, with the help of other American companies there, she founded the American School of Luxembourg, which still is in operation. A subsequent assignment with the Bank of Boston sent the Perrys to live for an extended period in Toronto, Canada. Throughout all her travels, Shirley was accompanied by her beloved Dobermans.