Margaret Perry, an expert in The Harlem Renaissance and an award-winning Librarian and Author, died in Ithaca, NY, on Wednesday August 30, 2023. The daughter of Elizabeth Munford Anthony Perry and Dr. Rufus Perry, both deceased, she was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 15, 1933.
Margaret spent her childhood in Prairie View, TX, and in Washington, DC, then moved to Kalamazoo, MI. She attended Western Michigan University from which she obtained an AB degree in Library Science and later earned her Master’s degree at Catholic University in Washington, DC.
Margaret began her career at the New York Public Library. She was subsequently a civilian librarian in France and Germany for the United States Army over a period of seven years. While in Europe, Margaret completed a certificate at the University Paris Centre of Excellence for Applied Research & Training Francaises. Upon returning to the United States, she became Circulation Chief at the US Military Library at West Point.
After West Point, Margaret held a variety of positions at the University of Rochester Library in Rochester, NY, rising to the position of Acting Director Libraries. Margaret initially moved to Rochester to pursue her doctorate, but diverted her focus to teaching after her Master’s thesis was published. As a result, Margaret was also a Professor at the University of Rochester. Upon leaving the University of Rochester, she again joined her love of teaching with her love of library science as a Professor and University Librarian at Valparaiso University, where she remained until her retirement in 1993.
Margaret authored several books, including “The Harlem Renaissance” in 1982, and “The Short Fiction of Rudolph Fisher” in 1987. She also wrote several short stories and contributed articles to various professional journals and children’s magazines. Post-retirement, she served as a freelance writer for the Michigan Land Use Institute. Most recently, Margaret contributed to her Kendal at Ithaca community by writing bios of new residents for the Kendal Breeze.
Margaret was a lifetime member of the American Library Association. She received many awards for her writing, including First Prize from the Armed Forces Writers League for a short story and First Prize from Arts Alive for a short story. In addition, Margaret has been cited in numerous editions of Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in the World. In recognition of outstanding contributions to her profession and the Marquis Who’s Who community, Margaret received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018, and she is featured on the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement website.
Margaret was an accomplished musician, proficient on the violin, viola, and piano. For many years, Margaret was a member of a string quartet. She spent part of each summer for 24 years honing her skills at Interlochen Arts Academy for Adult Chamber Music in Michigan. After moving to Ithaca, Margaret became a member of the Ithaca Community Orchestra, playing the violin.
In addition to her love of music, Margaret had many passions. She loved to travel and explored much of Europe as well as the Americas and the Caribbean. Anyone who knew Margaret well will remember that on at least one occasion she relished the opportunity to “pop over” to France to acquire a new fiddle. All of the travel fit quite well with Margaret’s passion for photography, which she skillfully exercised everywhere she went. In her last months, Margaret delighted in watching the birds that visited the feeders attached to her windows and in watching grand slam tennis matches.
Margaret is survived by her sister Dorothy Patricia “Patti” Simmons (William “Bill”), her cousin Deloris Hyatt Jackson, her godson David Wivell (Zhihua) and David’s children (Bayley, Peri, and Owen), her goddaughter Sara Wivell (Daniel Tsao), her extended family Yvonne Ross and Yvonne’s children (Margaret, Barbara, Ronald, Maurice (Beverly), and Simone), and a multitude of friends.
A funeral mass will be held on Friday, September 15, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Washington DC. Burial to immediately follow at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, 4001 Suitland Road, Silver Hill, MD 20746.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Interlochen Center for the Arts, 4000 J Maddy PKWY, Interlochen, MI 49643.