Perry Buchalter died just weeks after retiring after four decades in health care.

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Coronavirus: The ones we lost — The Palm Beach Post is chronicling the lives of the people in Palm Beach County who died in the pandemic.

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JUPITER — Perry Buchalter went in a matter of weeks from welcoming his second grandchild and retiring after four decades in the health care business to dying of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Many co-workers and friends reached out after Buchalter, of Jupiter, died April 7 at 63 at Jupiter Medical Center, his wife, Lisa Gendal, said.

“It just very nice,” she said, “to know, as we mourn him, that he really made a difference.”

Buchalter had lived in Coral Springs, in northern Broward County, until about three years ago, when he and his wife moved to the Jupiter County Club to be close to his son, David and his family, including their first granddaughter, Raya.

On Feb, 15, a second granddaughter, Leah, was born. On March 13, Buchalter retired. About a week later, he started feeling ill.

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The very pandemic that would claim his life allowed him, through the necessity of sheltering-in-place with his family, some of his best quality time, David Buchalter said.

"Never again in our lifetimes will you spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week with all these people," he said. "He wanted to make sure to make this matter."

David said the family has no idea how Perry became infected. He said it probably was right around the time everyone began working from home.

Symptoms started, he said, as "a slight cough. A little shortness of breath. We encouraged him to go to the ER. We said, ’Even if it's not a big deal, let them tell you and then send you home.’"

The family also argued that, if Perry did have COVID-19, it would be harder to get help as hospitals filled up.

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It would be just before Perry’s death that he came back positive for COVID-19, but from the beginning, doctors treated him as if he had the illness, his son said.

Perry went to the Jupiter Medical Center emergency room on March 28. In minutes, doctors had admitted him and put him on oxygen. Within hours, he was in the intensive care unit.

"Two days later, he was on a ventilator," his son said, "and eight days later, he died."

Perry was an "accident" son — three brothers were much older — and growing up in a tiny three-bedroom, one-bath home in the Cleveland suburb of Warrensville Heights "gave him a different perspective,“ his son said. ”He never took anything for granted."

Perry moved to Florida to attend Florida Atlantic University. He would spend the next 38 years working as an executive for the laboratory giant Quest Diagnostics, or companies that would become part of it.

Some 600 people took part in a video memorial ceremony for Buchalter. He is survived by David and a second son in Brooklyn and two stepchildren.

"My dad was a quiet hero," David said. "He did a lot for people. But he was never looking for recognition."

EK@pbpost.com

@eliotkpbp