Penelope Perkins Wilson (or was it John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt? His name was her name, too) passed away at 97 years of age on February 10, 2021. She was born Penelope Perkins in NYC to Linn Merck Perkins and George Walbridge Perkins, Jr. on April 30, 1923, growing up in her family’s homes in NYC and Glynwood Farm in Cold Spring, NY. Penelope, aka Penny, Mother, Grummy, Aunt Penny, Teacher Penny, was a force of nature. I suspect she will continue to be for those who knew her. Tall, creative, and willful, she attacked life with enthusiasm, passion, and delight. She could be terrifying, and terrifyingly fun. A wonderful sense of humor, spontaneity, and a pragmatic approach to the exigencies of life were her emblems, and she shared them generously. She was educated at the Brearley School in NYC, graduated from Chatham Hall in Virginia, and attended Bennington College in Vermont, where she studied art and architecture. After her marriage to William B. Wilson, a Williams graduate and Naval officer, in 1943, she resided everywhere from Pownal, Vermont to Pensacola, Fla., San Diego, Ca., and Garrison, NY... and in 1950, settled at Wyllpen Farm in Chester County, PA . She taught art at the Westtown School from 1956-1962. She divorced in 1965, and in 1973, she moved for the last time to her home, ‘The Wolery’, in Malvern, PA. She was a big fan of A. A. Milne. Penelope also had a home in Big Timber, Montana, whose wide open spaces were dear to her heart. Penelope exercised her philanthropic muscles regularly and widely. She was passionate about education, art, history, horses, conservation, and architecture. Among many others, she supported the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Historic Sugartown, Westtown School, Chatham Hall, the Montana History Foundation, the Sweet Grass Community Foundation, the Forest History Society, the Cradle of American Forestry, Bennington College, Moore College of Art and Design, the Chester County Community Foundation, Chester County History Center, Chester County Hospital, the Natural Lands Trust, Wave Hill, the Glynwood Center, the Audubon Society, the National Parks Conservation Association.... She also supported the education not only of her 5 daughters, but the majority of her 14 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren. What a gift! She raised her family to be interested in the world and to delight in small things. She loved jigsaw puzzles, birds (OWLS!!), chocolate, art exhibits, and lobster... and she always had a silly song at the ready. The best were made up on the spot. She is already deeply missed. Much love and appreciation to her caregivers, Suzie Weaver, Tammi Thompson, Debbie Fianu, Miriama, Debra... Penelope is survived by her 5 daughters, (Linn Krieg of McAllister, MT and Arizona, Suzanne Wilson of Big Timber, MT, Wendy O’Brien of Chestertown, MD and Aiken, SC, Elizabeth Gonzalez of Oley, PA, and Victoria Wilson-Charles of Veneta, Oregon, as well as 14 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, a host of nieces and nephews, and by her sister Anne Perkins Cabot. Her Brother George died in 2008. A private memorial will be held by the family once we can gather again. If you would like to send a donation in her memory, we suggest the Chester County Hospital, or your local land trust. She never did tell us who put the overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder.
Published by The Daily Local from Feb. 15 to Feb. 17, 2021.