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Wheelock College Trailblazer, Frances J. Perkins

On Sunday, April 22, Frances J. Perkins died at the age of 98.

During her lifetime, Frances J. Perkins, lived up to her high school yearbook’s probable destination caption – “working for everyone’s welfare.”

She began her professional career in the mid-1940s as the director of the St. Mark’s Congregational Church’s nursery school, interestingly, located across the street from her high school. Many of her young students such as Ronald Brown, the former Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration, pursued very successful careers.

Mrs. Perkins also directed nursery school programs at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Belmont and the Red Barn School in Weston, MA throughout the 1950s.

From 1961 to 1973, she directed Brandeis University’s Lemberg Nursery School, a laboratory nursery, and kindergarten for the School’s Social Sciences departments.

After serving on Wheelock’s Board of Trustees, Mrs. Perkins became the College’s first tenured, African-American faculty member. As an associate professor of psychology and sociology, she taught undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students. She remained at Wheelock until her retirement in 1985.

Mrs. Perkins’ other consulting and teacher training involvements included lecturing for the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study at Tufts University; instructing child development courses at Garland Junior College’s Summer Institute; developing curricula for the Boston Head Start program; directing the Head Start Training, and the Peace Corps Tunisia Training programs for Wheelock College.

An active community resident, she served as the Board President of Freedom House in Roxbury and the First Parish Unitarian Universal Church in Brewster, MA, and was also a lifetime member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Having made many lasting relationships with students, teachers, parents, colleagues, and friends, Mrs. Perkins will always be remembered for her caring leadership, valued insights, and love of people.

The fourth child of Robert and Rebecca Campbell Jones, Mrs. Perkins grew up in Roxbury, graduated from Roxbury Memorial High School, State Teacher’s College in Boston (now the University of Massachusetts) and earned master’s degrees from Tufts and Boston Universities.

After residing within walking distance of her childhood home in Roxbury for the first 64 years of her life, she and her late husband, W. Wentworth Perkins, built a home and moved to North Eastham on Cape Cod in 1984.

She is survived by a son, Joseph of Eastham, MA, two grandchildren, Catherine Frances Perkins, of Bourne, MA and Christian Perkins of Land-o-Lakes, FL and a great-grandson, Justin Perkins, also of Land-o-Lakes, FL.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, June 9 at 1:00 PM at St. Mark’s Congregational Church, 200 Townsend St., Roxbury, MA.

Memorial Service

June 9, 2018 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

St. Marks Congregational Church, 200 Townsend Street, Roxbury, MA

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