Chesterton Tribune

Jim Perkins volunteerism, energy remembered

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Friends and family gathered Monday afternoon to remember Jim Perkins who dedicated himself to many areas of community improvement, among them the Chesterton Hometown Improvement Project (CHIP).

The gathering was held in the garden area at Indian Boundary Rd. and Calumet Ave., where Perkins spent many volunteer hours planning, planting and landscaping the Indian Boundary entryway to the downtown.

Fellow CHIP volunteers remembered Perkins fondly and said his legacy lives on in many ways – through his family, through memories of time spent together, through his work with CHIP and many others organizations he volunteered for throughout Porter County.

The group gathered in what Perkins made a special place through his hard work and leadership - the beautiful entry point into Chesterton. He spent hours and hours at this intersection, whether working on his plans and drawings, tending to plants, supervising high schools students on CHIP day, planting and replanting trees if they didn’t take, preparing soil for pink petunias, or figuring out how much mulch was needed. He kept a watchful eye on this location and so it seemed entirely appropriate and fitting to dedicate this special place to Jim Perkins, CHIP committee members agreed.

CHIP first began in 2004 and most of the founding members were on hand to dedicate the memorial for Perkins. Since his unexpected death earlier this year he has been sorely missed at committee meetings.

“Jim was our rock – our foundation. He made us legitimate from the very beginning – because of his reputation in the community, and the quality person that he was,” said CHIP committee member Lauren Kroeger. “Jim had wonderful relationships with everyone in town and he would make things happen with ease, because he was trusted and respected as a person and a friend. With Jim, what you saw, was what you got. He was always a team player, and in doing so, always let us know where he stood. He refused to over commit, knowing it was far better to do a great job on a manageable project, than to take on too much and come up short. Jim was always a gentleman, always humble, and always a loyal friend. We loved – and will miss – his wonderful smile and laughter,” said Kroeger.

His efforts were not limited to the Indian Boundary Rd. entryway garden - each ‘Welcome to Chesterton’ area is a product of Perkins’ vision and work, whether at the EMS, Coffee Creek, Dogwood Park or plantings at Burger King. He helped place flowering dogwood trees along Indian Boundary Rd., planted an evergreen at Brummitt Elementary three years ago (a gift from the Brummitt fourth grade class) and helped with plantings along the new fence in Thomas Centennial Park.

The CHIP group met in February, in their first meeting without Jim, and felt deeply that they wanted to dedicate this year’s efforts to Jim. The perfect monumental rock was found, the plaque written and designed and the dedication planned. The area is dedicated in his memory with “heartfelt and deep admiration, respect and love,” Kroeger said.

Committee members will “miss him and will always remember him,” Kroeger added.


Posted 5/25/2012