Arthur Perkins, a former U.S. Army officer who served the community for more than four decades as a teacher, principal, and longtime member of the Denham Springs City Council, has passed away, his family has confirmed.
Perkins was 85, and he leaves behind a wife, Nora; four children, Arthur, Jr., Michael, Jeffrey, and Tonya Woods; five grandchildren; Bianca Perkins, Cory Perkins, Andre Perkins, Jalen Antoine, and Tiana Antoine; one great-grandchild, Reagan Cerf; and a host of other family members and friends.
Speaking to The News Monday evening, Perkins’ daughter said he passed away from kidney failure. According to his daughter, Perkins had recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Born in his mother’s house in February 1935, Perkins was a pillar of the Livingston Parish community, serving in a variety of roles for more than 60 years.
Perkins worked as an educator for more than 40 years from 1957-98. In addition, Perkins served on the Denham Springs City Council for 36 years, beginning in 1974 through 1990 and again from 1994 through 2014. He also served on the City Council in an interim role in 2017.
In recent years, Perkins ran a summer program at the L.M. Lockhart Center in Denham Springs and participated in other outreaches as an active member of Roberts United Methodist Church.
A lifelong resident of Livingston Parish, Perkins attended the former West Livingston High School, an all-black school that drew students from across the parish. He attended the school from grade one through high school, even playing on the school’s basketball team during his high school years.
Upon graduation, Perkins enrolled at Southern University and graduated in three years, obtaining his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education in 1958.
Perkins joined the ROTC while at Southern University and was later commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He remained in the National Guard for 20 years and retired as a lieutenant colonel.
Perkins began teaching math at his alma mater, West Livingston High School, in the late 1950s and was eventually named the school’s assistant principal and then principal before integration closed the school’s doors in 1969.
He was later named principal of Albany High School when that school was integrated in 1970. He retired from the school system in 1998.
Perkins was eventually elected to the Denham Springs City Council and served on the council for nine terms. While on the council, Perkins served as Mayor Pro-Tempore, liaison to the city's gas department, chairman of the Denham Springs Economic Development District, and chairman of the finance committee of the council.
In addition to his work, Perkins was a lifelong member of Roberts United Methodist Church, the city’s oldest church and first African American church. He served as a trustee of the church and also as a trustee of the Mission Finance Committee for the Louisiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Perkins also served his community through involvement in the Chamber of Commerce, the Livingston Parish Voters League, the Parks and Recreation District 3, and as a volunteer tutor at the L.M. Lockhart Center.
During a roundtable discussion in February 2018, Perkins said of his community:
“Denham Springs has been my home for all these years and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. We still have some things to accomplish… At the same time, we have come a long way and things have surely changed during my lifetime.”