Ruth Sando Fahnbulleh Perry was born on July 16, 1939, in a rural area of Grand Cape Mount County, to Marjon and AlHaji Semila Fahnbulleh. She is a Muslim of Vai ethnic ancestry. As a child, Perry participated in the Sande society, a traditional school and secret society for females, and attended regular classes. Her parents later enrolled her in a Roman Catholic school for girls in Monrovia run by missionary nuns, St. Theresa’s Convent.
Perry graduated from the Teachers College of the University of Liberia and worked as an elementary school teacher in Grand Cape Mount County.
She married McDonald Perry, a judge and legislator and they had seven children, one of whom, Georgia Jebbeh Perry, resides in the state of Rhode Island with her husband Augustus Duncan and their 5 children. Her other children, including the late Cecelia Marjon Goodridge who resided in Ohio with her husband Spencer Goodridge and their 5 children, take residence in several states across the U.S. and some still live in Liberia. After her children were grown, Perry worked in the Monrovia office of Chase Manhattan Bank in 1971 and taught at a Sande school as an elder.
In 1985, Perry won a seat in the Liberian Senate as a Unity Party candidate. In response to Samuel Doe’s allegedly fraudulent presidential election, Unity Party office-holders and other official opposition politicians boycotted the Senate in protest, asserting that the Doe government was illegitimate. Perry did not join the boycott and became the lone member of the opposition in the Assembly, serving until 1989. Afterward, Perry launched a retail business and became active in civilian groups such as Women Initiative in Liberia, Women in Action for Goodwill, and the Association of Social Services that sought an end to the growing Liberian Civil War.
On August 17, 1996, ECOWAS representatives negotiated a cease-fire between Liberia’s warring factions and announced that Perry would replace Wilton Sankawulo as chair of the Council of State in an interim government. Reportedly all four warlords in the Liberian conflict had agreed to the peace agreement with Perry as interim leader. The Council of State consisted of Charles Taylor, ULIMO-K (United Liberation Movement of Liberia) leader Alhaji Kromah, Liberia Peace Council leader George Boley, and two other civilians.
In 2004, she was an African President-in-Residence at the African Presidential Archives and Research Center at Boston University.