Longtime Greenwood volunteer ‘was there to help anybody’

Not long ago, Linda Perkins’ husband, the businessman and pilot Grady Perkins, asked if she would like to jet up to Las Vegas for a concert.

She told a friend: “I said, ‘Yeah!!!’” She was always on the go, both in town and elsewhere.  

Mrs. Perkins, who celebrated her 74th birthday Friday, suddenly died of cardiac distress Tuesday evening at St. Dominic Memorial Hospital in Jackson. Funeral arrangements are incomplete. Greenwood Delta Funeral Home is in charge.

A homemaker, she was a graduate of Greenwood High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Delta State University, where she studied home economics. Early in her life, she worked for the Mississippi Extension Service and Leflore County Civil Defense, and later, she devoted herself to raising the Perkinses’ son, Will, assisting her husband in his business activities and contributing to the community.

People particularly took notice of the latter, although she stepped back from personal attention. Hugh Warren, an acquaintance and former president of Museum of the Mississippi Delta, said, “I admired her drive.” People who worked with her say she had it in spades. In 2016-17, she was board president of both Altrusa International of Greenwood and Greenwood Little Theatre.

Altrusa’s current president, Barbara Girnys, remembered that time, saying after Mrs. Perkins finished those roles, she agreed to serve as Altrusa’s treasurer because no one else stepped forward.

“Linda was just a lot of fun. She wanted everything a certain way, to have that Southern perfectness,” said Girnys, who comes from Brooklyn, New York.

“She was just wonderful,” Girnys said. “She was there to help anybody. If she couldn’t do it, she would find somebody to help you.”

Mrs. Perkins routinely supported the work of organizations with which she did not have direct involvement.

She recently decided to order food every month for the dogs and cats at the Leflore County Humane Society. Around the same time, she took a carload of good clothing to the Greenwood Mentoring Group’s giveaway. She paid attention, and in moments of reflection would muse, “I am very observant.”

This led her to think about how things ought to look. Girnys said Mrs. Perkins was a good photographer and particular about how people looked in photos, including those taken of Altrusans. “If she didn’t like the picture, we had to keep taking it again and again to be sure our hair was good, our lipstick was good. You had to stand there until you had a Linda-approved picture.”

A running joke between them was that Girnys would decorate a Christmas tree for Altrusa in a display at the Museum of the Mississippi Delta. Girnys would send Mrs. Perkins a photo of the finished tree with the question, “Now, which bow do you want me to move?”

Becky Palmer, a member of Mrs. Perkins’ church, St. John’s United Methodist, said Mrs. Perkins served on various committees and was involved in dressing the altar. “She wanted the flowers and the altar table and the vestments to look just right. She had such a good eye for that,” Palmer said. “You can see Linda’s touches all over the church.”

Cameron Abel, a former Little Theatre president, said, “Linda’s life was a testament to giving. She was a tireless supporter of the theater. She volunteered with the museum and Altrusa and did a lot of work for her church, but she worked countless hours at GLT to make sure that everyone had what they needed.”

He continued, “Linda had big ideas and would set about to accomplish them. We needed to replace the exterior siding, and she worked with Richard Beattie and others to raise over $50,000 to do that as part of our Renaissance 60 capital campaign. And when the idea popped up for the Shakespeare summer camp, she was right in there planning, chaperoning, bringing the kids snacks and drinks. She was tireless and so very, very giving — an inspiration to us all.”

An avid Ole Miss fan, she had season tickets for football and basketball games and never missed them if she could help it, often traveling with longtime friend Debbie Oxnam. “It was something outside the box for both of us that was enjoyable,” Oxnam said. “She was a faithful fan, win or lose. She read sports articles in newspapers and on the Web, and on our drives, she would fill me in.” Oxnam taught her how to keep a basketball score book, which she filled in while watching games or listening to them on the radio.

Years ago, they worked together as Pillow Academy band boosters and saw to it that the band’s bus was refurbished and that the band traveled to places such as San Antonio to perform. “We were a team on that band,” Oxnam said.

“If she believed in a project, she was 100 percent behind it. A lot of people are going to miss her.”

Girnys said, “She loved her son, she loved her husband and was very active in the community. I don’t think there is a place that Linda didn’t touch.”

Alicia Dallas