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Evelyn Perera


1939 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Evelyn Perera Obituary
Evelyn Lewis Perera

1939-2016 Evelyn Lewis Perera died at home, surrounded by family, Sun., Sept. 11, a day before her 77th birthday. She lived for 17 years with Alzheimer's disease years of struggle but also many happy moments, thanks above all to the devoted care of her husband, Dr. Richard (Dick) Perera. She was born in New York on Sept. 12, 1939, to William Henry Lewis, Jr., and Victoria Potter Lewis. Eve attended Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, Md., and earned her AB in English, Magna Cum Laude, at Radcliffe College in 1961. She and Dick were married on Sept. 16, 1961, then moving to Pittsfield. Eve was a talented writer, poet and teacher, especially in the Christian tradition. Her many pursuits included a post-college job as an editorial assistant at Houghton Mifflin Co. in Boston; as an English instructor at Berkshire Community College; and at the Berkshire Institute for Christian Studies in Lenox, where she designed and taught a college class in Christian Classics and Composition from 1988 until her retirement in 2003. Eve was elected to the Pittsfield School Committee in 1980 and served until 1983. She drew on her love of books as a trustee of the Berkshire Athenaeum and on the Book Committee of the Lenox Library for many decades. In the 1970s she managed the Little Book Store, specializing in Christian literature, in Pittsfield. In 1984 she founded the Quiet Corner, a bookstore/tea shop on Main Street in Lenox. It became a cornerstone of the cultural and literary scene and was a gathering spot for writers, artists and musicians, many of whom became close friends to Eve and Dick. Eve honed her writing craft at the Bread Loaf School of English of Middlebury College, where she earned her MA in 1975. Her publications included essays in Christianity Today, New Oxford Review, Creation Social Science & Humanities Quarterly, and other periodicals, and her poetry was published in several small journals. In 1993 she published a hand-bound poetry book, "Realer than Real, Harder than Hard." From 1988-1989 she wrote a monthly book column for The Eagle, and from 1991-1992 she co-edited a literary journal called The Ark. In 1994 she co-edited the book "Virtuous Lives," based on writings by anti-slavery Quaker sisters. Eve wrote one of the testimonies in "Finding God at Harvard" (1996). After closing the Quiet Corner in 1991, she documented the adventures of those years in the self-published book "Quiet Corner Days," which included some of the tea shop's most beloved recipes. Eve's quiet dedication to social justice was informed by her Christian faith. She and two other women researched and lectured on the early African American community in Berkshire County. Her family hosted a "Fresh Air" child and several foreign exchange students. Eve was the first female deacon at Grace Church Congregational, did research on the women's suffrage movement and was a longtime member of "Blue Stockings," a women's intellectual dinner club. Eve was an early pioneer in a movement to nourish a renaissance of the arts among evangelical Christians, co-organizing a Christian Arts Conference at Berkshire Christian College in Lenox in the 1970's. Through her membership in Catholic, Episcopal and Congregational prayer groups, as well as Hadassah, a Jewish women's organization, she set an example of openness across faiths, well before "ecumenical" became a buzzword. In all of this she always maintained a wonderful sense of humor, faith in people, perseverance and humility. Eve is survived by her husband; daughter Rosemary (Rosie), of Vancouver, Canada; son Richard Jr. (Rick), of Atlanta, Georgia; daughter Jane Perera, son-in-law Peter Stein and grandson Isaac Perera Stein, of Boston; and sister Victoria Lewis Hobson and brother-in-law George Hobson, of Paris, France. Eve's caregivers, Linda Garney and her daughter Tami Bouchard, along with Tami's husband Mike and their extended family, have been exceptionally loving and devoted, and over more than a decade have done much to ease and comfort Eve. FUNERAL NOTICE: A memorial service will be held at Grace Church Congregational, 1055 William Street, Pittsfield, on Saturday, September 24, at 3:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the or Berkshire Institute for Christian Studies, http://www.berkshireinstitute.org/ .
Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Sept. 21, 2016
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