Gwendolyn Ruth Kirtley Perkins

Published 12:02 pm Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On Feb 15, 2014, Dr. Gwendolyn Ruth Kirtley Perkins, 95, passed away. Family and friends are saddened by her passing, but know that she lived one of the most fulfilling lives of anyone, ever. Gwen was born in Marlow, Okla. on March 23, 1918 to Edwin and Lena Kirtley. She was one of 10 children.
Gwen married Carroll J Perkins from Louisiana in 1940 and together had six children— three sons and three daughters.
She lived life as an optimist, and tried to find the good in people she met and in life’s situations. Gwen was a lifelong learner, an avid writer and wildlife photographer, and was published in many magazines, including National Geographic, Time-Life series, and Readers Digest. One of her lithographs became the first duck stamp for Mississippi in the 70′s.
After her husband’s retirement, they moved to Mississippi State where he got his PhD and eventually became a professor. Gwen, then in her 60′s, started back to college and obtained a PhD in Botany. She became a well-known lecturer on wild flowers.
She was also a world traveler and took many trips with a photography group from Habitat for Humanity, writing articles and taking publicity photographs of third world countries, as well as visiting most of the continents. While at Miss. State, Gwen started having Saturday night Soirées, inviting friends, and foreign students who were working on advanced degrees.
Since these students were eventually going back to their own countries, often to fill leadership roles, Gwen felt it was important that they got to experience the warmth and friendship of Americans in her home. People brought food and musical instruments and shared their cultures. It was not uncommon for 30 to 40 people to attend.
Gwen was almost 96 when she passed. She lived life to its fullest: producing beautiful embroidery wall hangings, developing an award winning line of ceramic mythological Norwegian JOTUNS, writing 2 comic books about Norse gods, and 2 books on ferns of the southeast…sending epic emails weekly to almost 100 ‘close’ friends, writing about her daily happenings in hilarious ways. She blogged, did Tai Chi, kept herself healthy, and made everyone feel like they were important and worthwhile. Her belief was that we each need to make our own heaven right here, love and respect one another, regardless of one’s race, sexual orientation, creed, or life’s circumstances .
Dr Perkins was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. CJ Perkins. She is survived by her three daughters, Susan Vandersand and husband, Jim, Ann Niemeier and husband, Sam, Mary Jane Thompson and husband, Grady; three sons, Tom Perkins and wife, Patricia, John Perkins and wife, Deborah, Jim Perkins  and fiancé, Arlene; 14 grandchildren, Kari, Brian, Brad, Kelly, Kirtley, David, Jill, Jamie, Allen, Christie, Amanda, Bonnie, Geoff, Jaime (and all their mates); 20 great grandchildren; one sister, Pauline Kirtley Goodman; numerous nieces and nephews. A special thanks to family-like friends, Richard, Winnie, and Karen, and all her friends that shared a special bond with her. Know that each of you held a special place in her heart. Also, thank you to the caregivers that made her last days as comfortable as possible.
A Celebration of life will be held Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 11 a.m. in Cave Spring United Methodist Church with Pastor John Page officiating.
Henderson & Sons Funeral Home, South Chapel, has charge of the memorial service arrangements.

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