DENHAM SPRINGS — Arthur Perkins, Sr., who served on the City Council for more than 36 years, as a Livingston Parish educator for 40 years, and as a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army, died Monday, July 20, at 85.
Perkins, who had recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus, died of kidney failure, according to members of his family.
Perkins, a lifelong resident of Livingston Parish, attended the former West Livingston Parish High School, an all-Black school that drew its students from throughout the parish. Upon graduation, he enrolled at Southern University earning a degree in three years. While at Southern, Perkins enrolled in the ROTC program and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation. He remained in the Louisiana National Guard for 20 years and retired as a lieutenant colonel.
A mathematics major, Perkins began his teaching career in 1957 as a faculty member at West Livingston High School. Eventually, he was named the school’s assistant principal and later was elevated to principal, a position he served in until the school was closed when desegregation came to Livingston Parish. He was later named principal of Albany High School when that school was integrated in 1970. His long tenure as an educator ended with his retirement in 1998.
Perkins was elected to the Denham Springs City Council in 1974 and served on the council through 1990, and again from 1994 through 2014. When a vacancy on the board occurred in 2017, Mayor Gerard Landry asked Perkins to once again serve on the board on an interim basis.
Landry said of Perkins, “he was a very special man and was a gift to our city, our education system and the community in general. I could always call on Mr. Perkins to give me advice on issues concerning our city and I always valued his opinion. He was just a very good person, and an outstanding family man. He set an example for what a father in our community should be. There are those special people you meet in life who just stand out and Arthur Perkins was one of those. He was a very special person and the community will miss him.”
Fred Banks, who spent 40 years employed by the Livingston Parish School System and was instructional supervisor for the parish upon his retirement, knew and worked with Perkins for many years. “Arthur Perkins was a very honest person, a Christian man, and one who worked tirelessly for the betterment of his community. He was always ready to help others whenever he could. He was a pioneer in the parish’s education system and he blazed a path for others to follow. He was the first Black principal of a formerly all-white school and he served with dignity. Arthur Perkins always wanted to do what was right,” Banks said.
Banks said Perkins worked tirelessly to make the school be the best it could be and set a great example for other teachers to follow.
Perkins also ran a summer a program at the L.M. Lockhart Center in Denham Springs and participated in other community enhancing programs. He was an active member of the Roberts United Methodist Church. He was a trustee of the church and a trustee of the Mission Finance Committee and the Louisiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Perkins was also a member of the Denham Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Livingston Parish Voters League, and the Parks and Recreation District 3.
Because of the coronavirus threat a drive-by viewing for Perkins will be held on Thursday and Friday at MJR Funeral Home in Denham Springs. A private family service will follow the viewing on Friday.
Perkins is survived by his wife Nora, four children, Arthur, Jr., Michael, Jeffrey and Tonya Woods, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.