GLEN ELLYN – Although Glen Ellyn lost one of its greatest champions last month, parts of longtime resident and village leader Gerald “Jerry” Perkins live on in the village, from the historical society he helped found to the many commercial, civic and residential buildings he designed.
“He didn’t realize he was building these statues to himself, but they would be here for many years to come,” said Stuart Stone, Glen Ellyn resident and former owner of the Glen Ellyn News.
Perkins, 90, died Sept. 8 at his Glen Ellyn home, surrounded by family members. His family identified the cause of death as old age.
Perkins first moved to Glen Ellyn with his parents and older sister as an infant. Aside from the time he spent studying architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and fighting in World War II, Perkins called Glen Ellyn his home, said his son, Randy Perkins.
His commitment to Glen Ellyn was recognized through his designation as a “Living Village Treasure” by the Glen Ellyn Village Board of Trustees and a “Glen Ellyn Living Legend” by the Glen Ellyn Historical Society.
Throughout his years in the village, Perkins served as a village trustee, a Glen Ellyn Park District Board commissioner, a founding member of the Glen Ellyn Historical Society and a member of the core group that restored historic Stacy’s Tavern.
He also held leadership roles in local and regional Rotary Club activities and served for decades as a board member and officer of Forest Hill Cemetery of Glen Ellyn.
Perkins founded his own architectural firm in Glen Ellyn in 1951 after the war ended and he was able to complete his degree, Randy Perkins said. He was married to his wife, Janice, for more than 50 years, until her death in 2002.
Perkins designed more than 2,000 residential commissions in Glen Ellyn and the surrounding communities, from new houses to renovations and additions, Randy Perkins said. He also worked on various civic and commercial structures in Glen Ellyn, including the Civic Center and downtown fire station and the Soukup’s and Horsley buildings.
Perkins was preceded in death by his wife, Janice; his parents; his infant brother, Trevor and his sister, Miriam. He is survived by his children Jennifer (Michael) Madsen, Timothy (Linda), Randolph (Lynn) and Jeffrey (Ruthann); his grandchildren, Michelle, Rebecca, Jessica, Angela, Miles, Greg, Sarah, Jason and Melissa; his great-grandchildren, Colin, Kayleigh, Mackenzie, Brendan, Melina, Magnolia, Alexander, Allegra, Gabriela, Katrarina, David, Francine and Marissa and various cousins and extended relatives.
Although Perkins could count many accomplishments within his 90 years, what mattered most to him were the relationships – not the buildings – he developed throughout the village, Randy Perkins said.
“That’s what he truly valued,” he said.