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Engler Picks Ex-Ypsilantian As Labor Chief

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Engler picks ex-Ypsilantian as labor chief

Bell's Lowell Perry headed U.S. job-opportunity panel

LANSING — Ypsilanti native Lowell W. Perry, a former chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Op-portunity Commission, has been tapped by Gov. John Engler to head the state Department of Labor.

Perry, 59, was an All-America football player at the University of Michigan in 1951, and later played professionally with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He will leave a job as director of community relations for Michigan Bell Telephone Co. in Detroit to become state labor director.

“Lowell has the experience necessary to deal with the labor issues facing Michigan,” Engler said in a statement. “As we are beginning to deal with a soft economy, I am confident that Lowell will be able to guide the Department of Labor with fairness and decisiveness.”

As director, Perry will oversee a $310 million budget. The department’s major activities include job training, statewide construction code enforcement, workplace safety inspections and safety training programs.

Perry is not new to the Engler team. Last year, he was one of two candidates to receive Engler’s backing in a bid for a seat on the state Board of Education. He lost the election.

Perry was not Engler’s first choice for the director’s job.

Engler offered William Lucas, the 1968 GOP candidate for governor, the director’s job. Lucas, who heads the office of liaison services in the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C., rejected the offer.

Perry graduated from Ypsilanti High School and the U-M, where he was both a football and track star, and spent two years in the Air Force. A hip injury cut short his pro career with the Steelers, and he earned a law degree at the Detroit College of Law. He served as a law clerk in federal court and as an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board.

He was an executive in manufacturing and personnel at Chrysler Corp. before serving as chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under former President Gerald Ford.

He serves on a number of boards of directors, including the National Football League Board of Charities, the Detroit College of Law Board of Trustees and Michigan Special Olympics. He is a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Urban League.

Perry and his wife, Maxine, live in Southfield. They have three children.