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The wind was howling and the rain was sheeting against the hospital windows on the night that William and Winifred Dicker Jackson’s daughter was born. The nurses said, “You should name her Gale,” but Winifred named her firstborn Barbara after an admired childhood friend.
Barbara’s first home was in Alameda. It was a safe and friendly place to raise Barbara and her younger sister, Frances. Winifred and the two girls walked everywhere since Winifred did not drive and when they were school-age the girls walked to and from school unless it was raining and Uncle Billy was pressed into service to give the girls a ride in his paint truck.
During the World War II years, the sisters took their Little Jim wagon and traversed the streets of Alameda in search of scrap metal, newspapers and grease. It was a celebration day when someone donated an old water heater. Barbara’s fifth grade class was named The Scrap Champions of Alameda complete with photo in the Alameda Times Star local newspaper.
When Barbara was 12, the family moved to San Mateo, which was to be the family home for many years. Barbara attended San Mateo High School, where she appeared in several plays. She loved playing Martha in “Arsenic and Old Lace,” as well as having roles in several other plays. She then attended San Mateo Junior College, which at that time was in a beautiful campus at Coyote Point. She and a friend went to a Forum Club meeting on campus where Barbara met Victor Perkes, her future husband. Barbara continued her interest in theater and appeared in several plays while at SMJC.
Then it was off to San Jose State to earn her General Elementary Teaching Credential. From early childhood, Barbara knew she wanted to be a teacher. As a child, she lined up her dolls and stuffed animals and taught them lessons while standing next to a miniature chalkboard. After graduating from San Jose State, her first teaching job was in Burlingame. She and Victor were married in 1953 while she was teaching in Burlingame. She taught in Burlingame for three years.
At the end of three years, Barbara gave birth to her son, Mark. Because she wanted to be a full-time mother, Barbara resigned her teaching position and took an evening job in the credit department at Sears. As time passed, Kent, Allison and Emily joined the family.
At this point, Victor decided to go to Stanford to pursue a Doctorate in Science Education which meant that Barbara needed to add to the family coffers, by taking a job in Hillsborough, California as a substitute teacher. She was able to do this for three years while continuing her job at Sears and managing her growing family. She feels qualified to wear a Stanford sweatshirt.
After Victor earned his doctorate, the family moved to Davis where Victor was hired by the School of Education at UC Davis. Because of Victor’s expertise in science education, the family spent summers in Arcata; Boulder and Golden, Colo.; Eugene, Ore.; and Chapel Hill, N.C., where Victor conducted teacher workshops in hands-on Science. The family drove across country to Chapel Hill in their brand-new 1967 Buick Sportswagon which is still parked in the family garage.
The Perkes’ children were involved in many activities and Barbara always volunteered to help. She was a Cub Scout den mother, taught Young Chef classes for 4H and served as team chaperone for Bobby Sox Baseball. In addition, she played bridge, belonged to three gourmet groups, was PTA secretary at North Davis Elementary and worked at the monthly PTA hot dog sales.
Barbara’s teaching career resumed when she became a director at Davis Parent Nursery School. Later, she decided to return to the elementary classroom. She taught second grade at West Davis Elementary and when it became Chávez, she transferred to North Davis Elementary, where she taught third grade. During her entire teaching career, she encouraged parents to participate as volunteers in the classroom. So many parents told her so many times, “Barbara, you are so well organized,” that she told them she was going to have that inscription on her gravestone.
After retiring after 30 years in the DJUSD, she delivered Meals on Wheels, helped as a Friend of the Library and served as scholarship chairman of the Davis Parent Nursery School Foundation. Barbara missed teaching so much that immediately after retiring, she volunteered as an art teacher at North Davis Elementary. Every week she taught a different lesson of her creation to second graders at North. She enjoyed the interactions with the staff and the students and had fun creating the occasional new lesson.
She enjoyed trips to Europe as well as in the United States with fellow teacher and friend Katie Tracy. She was a sports buff and devoted much time to watching the 49ers, San Francisco Giants, Sacramento Kings and Stanford football.
She had a loving family and every birthday and holiday was celebrated at the family home. On their birthdays, Mark, Kent, Allison and Emily got to choose what they wanted for their birthday dinner. Mark always asked for chicken Kiev or spinach lasagna, knowing that Barbara would not make either because they were too much work for a crowd. Barbara was surrounded by the love of her four children, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be on April 8 — RSVP for more details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make a donation in Barbara’s memory, donate to Canine Companions Northwest Region, P.O. Box 446, Santa Rosa, CA 95402 or Meals on Wheels in Woodland.
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