Cover photo for Phyllis Ruth Oldson Perkins's Obituary
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1930 Phyllis 2024

Phyllis Ruth Oldson Perkins

August 10, 1930 — March 13, 2024

Wenham, MA

Phyllis Ruth Oldson Perkins passed away peacefully at Beverly Hospital with her family at her side. Phyllis was born in Salem on August 10, 1930, to Tansy Henrietta Znobia Haggstrom Oldson and Harold Edward Oldson. She attended Salem public schools, graduating Salem High School in 1947. She was a tour guide at the House of Seven Gables, and could still recite her tour on demand. Phyllis graduated from Mt. Ida Junior College in 1949 with a degree in airline secretarial skills. She also attended Salem Commercial School to accommodate her father’s insistence that she not work in the airline industry, and obtained a secretarial degree in 1950. She worked for the Holyoke Mutual Fire Insurance Company in Salem where she thoroughly enjoyed her colleagues “The Playgirls”. Phyllis and her beloved husband James G. Perkins, Jr., were introduced through mutual friends and married in 1955. Phyllis and Jim raised two daughters, Pamela and Janet, in Hamilton. Phyllis enjoyed volunteering in the schools, attending her girls’ sporting events, and supporting Jim’s banking career and Shriner activities. 

Growing up, Phyllis loved to ride her bike, often making the trek from Salem to Lanesville, Gloucester to visit friends. She and Jim took up skiing, starting the girls out at Hamilton Rope Tow and making frequent trips to Mt. Sunapee and other New England ski areas. After a hiatus of 30 years, she and Jim brought their girls and their families to Utah where they delighted the grandchildren by skiing again at age 75. 

Phyllis was an avid knitter, completing thousands of pieces over many decades. She was a prominent member of the “Busy Needles” group at First Church in Wenham, donating handknit sweaters, hats and scarves. She was known for her clever color combinations and ability to use up the last little bit of yarn; she received a President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions. 

Phyllis and Jim loved to travel, attending banking conventions in great locations throughout the US, and participating in many Shriner trips to international destinations. She and Jim also made special trips to Sweden and Scotland to see where their families were from. 

Phyllis will be remembered for her fearless spirit and her sense of contentment. While she loved a good adventure, Phyllis was also very happy at home gardening, knitting, playing Solitaire, reading and keeping house. After losing Jimin 2013,she persevered at home mowing the lawn until she was 85, going to the gym twice a week, driving to her daughters’ homes for lunch, and grocery shopping on her own. Phyllis regularly attended First Church in Wenham and loved her church family. She especially enjoyed her scotch on Friday nights. 

Phyllis is survived by her two daughters, Janet White and her late husband Brad of Essex; Pam and David Kipp of Newburyport. She was blessed with five grandchildren who delighted in their time and calls with her: Ben and Elizabeth White, and Caroline, Julia and James Kipp. She is also survived by her younger brother, Stuart Oldson, of Burlington, NC. 

Her memorial service will be held at First Church, 1 Arbor Street, Wenham on Friday, April 26th at 11AM. Relatives and friends are invited to attend. Contributions may be made in Phyllis’ memory to First Church in Wenham or Shriners Transportation Fund, 99 Fordham Rd, Wilmington, MA 01887-0578. Arrangements by the Campbell Funeral Home, 525 Cabot Street, Beverly, MA.

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Friday, April 26, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

First Church In Wenham

1 Arbor St, Wenham, MA 01984

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