Two weeks after the death of Lee Perlman, his rundown, 110-year-old Portland bungalow is a swarm of activity. Former friends, contractors and city staffers scurry around the property dividing up the rundown home’s contents.
Every surface is covered. Newspapers are stacked four feet tall in the corners. A mound of magazines three feet high subsumes a bed. Workers shuffle through narrow spaces on a carpet of paper four inches deep.
Lee’s brother Bill Perlman, just arrived from his home in Massachusetts, stands in one corner. “It’s a shock,” he says, “but not a surprise.”
In August, Lee Perlman, at the age of 64, killed himself in his Eliot neighborhood home. The death of the well-known reporter and 40-year neighborhood activist sent shock and dismay through Portland.
Perlman — recognizable for his snowy hair and beard, button-down shirt sleeve, jeans and work boots — recorded a generation of neighborhood activism that helped transform Portland’s once-neglected urban core into one of the most livable cities in the U.S.