Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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Lenawee County teacher helped start her church

ADRIAN - Iola Perkins, 80, a longtime Lenawee County teacher who was a founding member of her church, died Tuesday in Lenawee Medical Care Facility from complications of a stroke suffered last month.

Miss Perkins retired in the early 1990s from Addison Community Schools, where she had been a fourth-grade teacher.

"It didn't matter if you were rich or poor, she gave individual care to make sure [students] got the reading and writing," her sister, Shirlee Sheldon said. "She gave of herself. She liked helping the children."

Miss Perkins, as a young woman, aspired to become a missionary. After her 1942 graduation from Adrian High School, she received degrees from Spring Arbor College in Michigan and Fort Wayne Bible College.

But in the early 1950s, schools were full of young baby boomers and short on teachers. She answered the call for help.

"They wanted anybody who had any education like [hers]," her sister said.

Miss Perkins began her career as a second-grade teacher in a rural school at Devils Lake. She later was principal. The Devils Lake school became part of the Addison district during consolidation.

She received a bachelor's degree in education from Adrian College and a master's from Eastern Michigan University.

She was dedicated to her faith, though it was not her vocation. She was a founding member of the Evangelical Mennonite Church, Adrian, which is now the Church of the Good Shepherd.

"She gave herself to Christ when she was 13 or 14, and that's what she lived for," her sister said. "She loved her Lord above anything."

Miss Perkins was the church's secretary, treasurer, and pastor's assistant.

"Everything people needed went through her," her sister said.

Miss Perkins' home became a refuge, and she provided encouragement and sustenance - canned food and the like.

"She was like the Salvation Army or the Red Cross. She provided for anybody in need," her sister said. "She counseled a lot of people. She was understanding and sincere, and she was the most faithful Christian. There wasn't anything fakey about her. She walked the walk."

Surviving are her brother, Keith Perkins, and sisters, Wanda Ash and Shirlee Sheldon.

Services will be at 2 p.m. today in the Braun Everiss Wagley Funeral Home, Adrian.

The family suggests tributes to the Church of the Good Shepherd in Adrian or to any local library.

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