Thelma Crosby Perkinson
February 26, 2021
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Thelma Crosby Perkinson, who passed onward peacefully at age 97 on Friday, February 26, 2021, in Richmond, Virginia.
She was a beloved mother, friend, aunt, teacher and mentor. Her insight and genuine interest in people from all walks of life nurtured untold numbers to embrace their unique individualities and talents.
Thel was a barrier-breaking renaissance woman who embodied Southern warmth and relished using hostess and culinary skills learned from her elegant Italian-American grandmother.
Our mother’s quick mind and endless curiosity led her to study and teach jazz, piano; serve as architect, contractor and interior designer for her family’s home; earn a welding certification to create architectural ironwork and sculpture in copper and brass; renovate a Fan District house; lead tours around the world, and study advanced floral design in England and then found her own professional floral design company in Richmond. She was a consummate storyteller who studied writing for more than 30 years, eventually resulting in a novel about life in post-World War II university housing.
Her experience, knowledge, courage, compassion, intelligence and generosity evolved into a deep wisdom and spiritual depth that endeared her to her daughters and to many who sought her counsel and enjoyed her fun-loving humor and gregariousness. As our Mom, she was always by our side with a hand in ours, encouraging us to look wider, to see what else was possible for our lives, that would bring us joy and success in our dreams.
We will miss her beyond words, but we are celebrating, in her words, “the excitement of the next journey.”
She was predeceased by her parents, William Crosby and Thelma Foster. She is survived by three daughters, Pamela Turner, of Richmond, Va., April Perkinson, of Kawasaki, Japan, and Valerie Perkinson Ishmael., of Port Orange, Florida; and by countless cousins who loved her like a sister; nieces to whom she was valued family matriarch; and countless friends of all ages.
Due to pandemic restrictions, at a later date we will honor Thel at a proper celebration in the style she deserves.
Memorial donations may be made to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, vmfa.org, where our mother spent many enjoyable hours with music, art, dining and sharing writing and champagne with friends.
Thel was a tenacious, frank teacher of the aging process, practical mentor and friend. I’m eternally grateful for her encouragement, counsel, friendship and mutual affection that flowed between us. This, and a long and meaningful life, are causes for celebration, not grief. Well done, good and faithful servant.
We send our condolences to her daughters, to her family and to her large network of friends. All of us will miss her and her joyous embrace of life and of us.
I told Thelma years ago that when she died a light would go out in the universe. She is the most unforgettable person I’ve ever met. Unique in so many ways. Too long a list. We enjoyed many philosophical discussions. She was incredibly and unexpectedly insightful . Life did not treat her as well as she deserved but she made the most of what she could. Her hostess skills, now a lost art, were enjoyed by so many friends and neighbors. Your light has been extinguished.but remembered.
Thel was our friend and neighbor at Tuscan Villas for several years. Even after we moved, Ron and I looked forward to getting together with her and enjoying her humor, hospitality, musicianship (it was a joy to listen to her playing jazz standards!) and her skills at mixing a cocktail! We got together with her about two weeks before her passing, and she made us a batch a delightful frozen whiskey sours.
I remember the times she and I would have lunch, and we’d talk about the challenges and joys of having careers as self-employed creative types. Or the latest books we read. Or travel. Or a mutual love of jazz. What a lovely friend! We are so grateful to have had her in our lives!
I was just cleaning up my mom and dad’s house ran across a bowl of blown glass that Valerie made back in ‘78. I was googling Valerie and Thelma‘s name came up. Tell me adopt me how to drive in her big old convertible Cadillac. She always told me that I had to have my foot on the gas or on the break… one or the other. And I do believe that’s how she lived her life. What a woman. She will be missed. ♥️🕉🌹