Lillie Perkins Obituary (1950 – 2022) – Bloomfield, CT

New Haven has lost an extraordinary educator, an evangelist who ministered through music and the preached word, as well as a living epistle and disciple of Christ. On January 24, 2022, God called to rest His faithful servant, Lillie E. Perkins, a real Lily, who worked tirelessly in the field of education. Lillie was born March 20, 1950 to the late James E. and Flossie L. Walker in the rural town of Hallsboro, North Carolina.
At the age of seven, Lillie knew she was “born” to teach. In pursuit of her dream, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. On April 15, 1972, Lillie will marry James E. “Rudy” Perkins, Jr. and from this union, will be born Tiara Tennille and a bonus daughter, Sharon Marie. Lillie would later receive a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut; and a sixth-grade administrative certificate from Southern Connecticut State University. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting from the Connecticut School of Broadcasting.
Mrs. Perkins was a dedicated educator in the public schools of New Haven and worked hard in this part of God’s Vineyard for thirty-six years. When she accepted her first teaching position at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School in 1972, she recognized the need in the community for young people to express themselves in positive ways after school hours. Lillie and several other King School educators worked with child psychiatrist, James P. Comer, MD, MPH of the Yale Child Study Center and created social skills teaching units for the Whole Person Curriculum. Lillie started the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School Choir, teaching her students about literacy, life lessons, and lyrics. From 1973 to 1985, Lillie not only led the choir, but provided myriad opportunities for members to travel, exposing them to wonderful educational experiences while interacting with local, national and international leaders.
In 1985, Lillie began sowing seeds at another school in New Haven. She taught third grade and organized and directed the Helene Grant School Choir until 1997. Lillie believed in teaching the “whole child”. His students and choir members received lessons that brought them experience, exposure, energy, esteem and commitment. Members of the choir continued to tour the East Coast while singing for national and international leaders such as former first lady Hillary Clinton, law professor Lani Guinier and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, not to mention to name a few. In 1995 the choir released a recording of inspirational songs called “Out of the Mouths of Babes”.
In November 1997, Lillie founded the Unity Boys’ Choir and for the next 21 years continued to teach through singing. With the dedicated support of her sister in Christ, choir director and assistant director, Mrs. Sylvia G. Hayes, this inspiring choir has sought to promote social development with a strong emphasis on self-worth, unity and respect for all ages. The young men ranged in age from three to twenty-two and came from the large communities of New Haven. The Unity Boys Choir traveled from Canada to Florida and many states in between, lifting the hearts and minds of all who welcomed their melodies and inspirations. In 2003, the choir released a patriotic CD which was shared with military troops in Iraq and other countries.
Not only did Mrs. Perkins enjoy the success of choirs, but as a classroom educator in various capacities. She has seen countless students succeed over the years. Ms. Perkins realized the importance of encouraging and demonstrating dignity and integrity among her students. Her former student, Virginia Bailey-Barnes, said, “Ms. Perkins taught with love and kindness, but most importantly, she inspired with integrity. She reminded us every day that we were all her children. She loved her children, but most of them all, she believed in her children. His inspiration has cultivated accountants, school administrators, Broadway stars, doctors, nurses, school counselors, teachers, social workers, US Army veterans, and many other professionals. We have learned to serve with courage, hope and integrity. We knew who Mrs. Perkins was would make the difference in who we were to become.
In addition to her service to the New Haven, CT Public Schools, Ms. Perkins has volunteered and participated in the Mayor’s Youth Service Program, Toy/Teas/Toy Closets Program at Yale New Children’s Hospital Haven, at the 1995 CT Special Olympics, CT U.S. Attorney’s District Programs, Child Protection Network Program, Christian Community Action (CCA) Food Program, Board of Police Commissioners for Young Adults of New Haven and community assistant for the elderly.
Lillie has always said, “My life is a gift from God and what I do with my life is my gift to God!” She also remarked, “I asked God to give me life until my work was done and to work until my life was done and it was in the service of the children.” For her dedicated service, Lillie has received numerous awards over the years. She has received the YMCA Women in Leadership Award, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Award (WILF), Outstanding Leadership and Professional Accomplishment Award, National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Award (NANBPW), National Association of Black Social Workers Community Service Award, Christian Community Service Award, Teachers-Administrators-Parents-Students (TAPS) Award for New Haven Public Schools, Volunteer Action Center (VAC), Recognition of Excellence for Inspiring Young People Award, NANBPW Clubs Inc. National Sojourner Truth Meritorious Service Award, Arts Council of Greater New Haven 2004 Arts Award, Sengbe Pieh Award, Heritage Chorale Community Service Award, and many other local, state, and national honors and citations.
Lillie, was an active member of the Bible Gospel Center, formerly an adult Sunday school teacher. She attributes her spiritual growth to former church leaders, Pastor Henry Benjamin, Pastor James Murphy, Bishop William and Pastor Bernice Peterson, the late Pastor John A. Good and Overseer Gwendolyn Good.
Lillie was also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated for 51 years. She promised the Delta Alpha chapter of Fayetteville State University in 1971.
Lillie was predeceased by her parents, James E. and Flossie L. Walker; his father and stepmother, James E. Perkins, Sr. and Rheedes Perkins; her husband, James E. “Rudy” Perkins, Jr; brother, Franklin Hubert Spears (Gwen) Whiteville, North Carolina; The godfathers, Eddie and Bernice Estes; and his godfather, Paul Frederick Estes. She leaves to her inheritance two daughters, Tiara Valentino-Perkins and Sharon Marie Barbour-Gaithersburg, MD; brothers, Lanewood Percy Walker (Annette)-Des Moines, IA, James Eugene Walker, Jr. (Nadene)-Dumfries, VA; sister, Vonnie Loretta Walker-Gainsville, VA; loving sisters, Nancy Spears-Orlando, FL, Velma Walker-Philadelphia, PA, and Marsi Jones-Woodbridge, VA; Godsisters, Jean Estes Watley and Marilyn Estes-Columbia, MD; and Godbrother, Eddie Estes, Jr. (Jean) – Miami, FL; Godson, Gene Wiggins; his bonus mom, Mrs. Sylvia McNeil; bonus little sisters, Sylvia Hayes, Marcella Flake, Beryl Irene Bailey,-Springfield, MA, Metashar Dillon, Denise Flegler, Ella Moore, Josie Kendall and Alvenia Hicks; and a host of dear friends, nieces, nephews and cousins.
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Posted by Howard K. Hill Funeral Services – New Haven on February 10, 2022.

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