Frances Jones Perkins

December 14, 1919April 22, 2018

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 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 throughout the 1950s.

In 1961, Brandeis University selected her to be the director of its Lemberg Nursery School, a position that she held for over a decade.

After serving on Wheelock’s Board of Trustees, Frances Perkins became the College’s first tenured, African-American faculty member. She remained an associate professor of psychology and sociology 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 participant, 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 life time member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Having made many lasting relationships with students, teachers, parents, colleagues and friends, Mrs. Perkins and will always be remembered for her 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 Roxbury family home 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.


Frances Jones Perkins

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