Gladys Perkins celebrates her 100th birthday

Published 9:08 am Friday, April 8, 2022

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By MEG HERNDON | Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – On Saturday, March 26, five generations gathered at the Shelby County Arts Council to celebrate Gladys Perkins’s 100th birthday.

The night featured several guest speakers from Gladys’s life, as well as a comedian, music, dinner and the cutting of the cake.

Gladys, a lifelong resident of Shelby County, was born on March 31, 1922. Gladys was married to the late pastor John Perry Perkins II for 50 years, and the two had 12 children, 11 of whom are still living.

Although Gladys did not graduate high school, she made sure all of her children did. The Perkins family legacy includes pastors, business owners, entrepreneurs, attorneys, an inventor, a copywriter, a mayor and a great-grandson who owns Black Sands Entertainment.

When asked about the most important lesson she’s learned in her 100 years, Gladys said, “You’ll have trials and tribulations, but all the lessons that the Lord gives me is taking care of all of that, so I don’t ever worry about that cause He’s got it. My motto is ‘Jesus on the inside, showing up on the outside.’”

One-hundred and fifty guests from all over attended Gladys’s birthday party, including family from Florida, Georgia, Michigan and New York.

For the party, Gladys’s children had to create a committee and assign roles due to the fact that the ceremony would be so large.

“I want to thank all of them, everybody that knows me, I want to thank all of them,” Gladys said, “and I’m glad that they’re showing me up.”

Gladys has connected with so many people due to her volunteer work at the polls and through churches. Many who know Gladys spoke about her giving nature and the important role she has played in her community.

“Mama is not just a pillar of our church, she’s a pillar in the community,” Shirley Bennett, Gladys’s seventh child, said. “I’m just amazed, absolutely amazed. She not only raised her kids, she raised a whole community. It’s not just the life she’s lived, He’s given her extra life.”

“She still drives, gardens and cans everything she grows. She is loved throughout the community,” Maxine Perkins, Gladys’s youngest child said. “Ask just anybody who has lived here for any length of time, and they can tell you who she is.”

As each of her children spoke at the party, they thanked Gladys for all the help and support she has given them throughout their lives.

“A lot of times I worked crazy hours, rotating shifts, a lot of long shifts, and so she provided a lot of that stability. Good advice and good information to keep you on the right track when you’re messing up,” said Virgil Perkins, Gladys’s second youngest. “You know you don’t have all the eyes and somebody else has got a set of eyes that helps you. So, she’s always another set of eyes and she looked out for the girls and helped us a lot. We are just thankful for her and we love her and we appreciate all that she’s done.”