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Virginia Arnold Perry

 

Remembering A Legacy...

Virginia Arnold Perry was born in Bassett, Virginia, on January 22, 1937. She was the eldest of ten children born to the late Robert and Geneva Arnold. Her mother, Geneva, died at the age of 37 when Virginia was only 17 years old. She worked hard helping her father take care of her siblings and working various jobs in the community. Her father later remarried Lucy Brown-Mann.

 

After high school Virginia went on to graduate from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a degree in Business Administration. It was during this time that she met and married the love of her life, Orlando K. Perry, Sr.

 

Virginia, who didn’t like death or funerals, had no idea the impact that Orlando would have on her life and career choices. First of all, they met in Piscataway at a funeral. Second, on their first date they got locked in a cemetery. Then, Orlando became the owner and operator of Perry Funeral Home.

 

After teaching in Newark for nine years and Roselle for one year Virginia reenrolled in the American Academy McAllister Institute of Mortuary Science and Funeral Directing located in New York City.

 

She and Orlando had three children, Nancy, Orlando Jr., and Elizabeth Tracey while working and attending school. In 1976, she graduated and became a licensed funeral director, but her children were her greatest accomplishment.

 

Orlando enjoyed having Virginia by his side in the family business and taught her many things. He was also a smart man and let her handle every aspect of the business. Virginia had a business acumen and social grace beyond compare. She knew just what to say to put grieving families at ease.

 

Virginia’s flair and sense of style extended to interior design making an elegant yet comfortable setting for families to receive services.

 

Not one to sit still, Virginia was also the owner of two successful boutiques, “Ginny Re” in Montclair, NJ to accommodate the “full figured” women and “Treasures Unlimited” an accessory boutique in South Orange, NJ.

 

When Orlando passed away in 1990, even in the midst of sorrow, Virginia rose to occasion and assumed her late husband’s role as of President of Perry Funeral Home. She held this position for twenty-eight years.

 

A faithful member of Bethany Baptist Church, Virginia worked on the Black College and Building Fund Committees. She also chaired Mother’s Day Weekend and Homecoming “2000.” Virginia helped raise funds for the Christian Academy, a new addition to the church.

 

She held memberships in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Essex and Union County Funeral Directors Association, Garden State Funeral Directors Association, National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, Women’s Auxiliary, National Funeral Directors Association and an Associate Member in Jack and Jill of America.

 

Virginia received numerous community service and humanitarian awards. Yet she remained unpretentious, always preferring to operate in the background and behind the scenes. She was instrumental in many local youth receiving scholarships and remained a part of their lives even after graduation. Two of these students became employees of the funeral home, one for over 35 years and the other for over 18 years.

 

A traveler, she traveled the United States and visited 4 of 7 world continents inquiring about funeral practices in various destinations.

 

Virginia loved to cook and entertain. She would host dinners and brunches at home for family and friends. Her passion for decorating led to a collection of black art that is to be envied. She believed in giving from the heart; helping others with no strings attached. Virginia’s strength and perseverance can be identified in her favorite quote “When life hand you a lemon, start making lemonade.”

 

She was predeceased by her parents Robert and Geneva and her stepmother Lucy Arnold; her husband, Orlando K. Perry, Sr.; her two eldest children, Orlando “Kenny” Perry, Jr. and Nancy Perry Velez; and 3 siblings, brothers John and Doyle Houston Arnold, and sister, Rosa Arnold.

 

Virginia leaves to cherish her memory a daughter, Elizabeth Tracey Tisdale (Dorian); her grandchildren, George, Angela, Christopher, Brianna, Alicia, Tre, and Kylin; 3 brothers, Robert (Delories), Samuel (Retha), and Walter (Shirley); 3 sisters, Lula, Peggy, and Juanita (James); and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and the entire Perry Funeral Home Staff.