David Marshall Perkins

Perkins—David Marshall Perkins, 86, on September 4, 2020. David was born on May 8, 1934, to Walter Morris Perkins and Mary Lee Korns in Cleveland, Ohio.

While in elementary school during World War II, David bought Civilian Public Service stamps rather than buying war bonds or participating in scrap paper drives to support the war. He had memories of abuse including being beat up by schoolmates as a result of his decision.

David’s parents divorced when he was in junior high, making money tight. He received a scholarship and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan College in 1955. While in college, David worked with an American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) service unit at a mental institution.

David heard A. J. Muste speak about holy disobedience and, in addition, was influenced by a personal conversation with Bayard Rustin about civil disobedience. David registered as a conscientious objector (CO).

His CO work took David to Ixmiquilpan, a village in Hidalgo, north of Mexico City. There he met Sabina Acevedo Gomez. On July 29, 1959, they married at Mexico City Meeting. While in Mexico, David developed insight that those who live closest to the level of survival best understand that life necessitates love and sharing.

As a devoted Quaker, David believed that active love and concern can overcome hate and hostility. He became a member of Washington (D.C.) Meeting in 1948. He transferred his membership to Pima Meeting in Tucson, Ariz., in 1993.

As he continued his work with AFSC, David secured positions in Arizona, working first at the White Mountain Apache Reservation as an elementary teacher from 1958 to 1963. During summers, he studied at the University of Arizona and, in 1967, earned a master’s in Latin American studies. David refused a scholarship offer that required signing a loyalty oath. He did community development work at the San Carlos Apache Reservation from 1963 to 1967, then taught school in Solomon, Ariz., from 1967 to 1973. David’s job was put in jeopardy because he objected to signing the Arizona teachers’ loyalty oath required for employment in the state.

Apart from his teaching duties, David volunteered for community projects. Officials from Greenlee County were impressed with his work and offered him a position as a county administrator. The position required David to sign a loyalty oath. He crossed out the word “pledge” and served in 1973–1984. David was recognized for his work with the Health Systems Agency (HSA) by Governor Bruce Babbitt. In 1984–1988, David worked as an assistant county administrator for Yuma County.

When he retired and relocated to Tucson, David volunteered in Sonora, Mexico, at AFSC workcamps established and run by Norman and Exelee Krekler. He later volunteered with AFSC Arizona with respect to immigrant rights and border issues. David earned his second master’s, in public administration, from the University of Arizona in 1993.

David attended Pima Meeting regularly for worship, sharing messages that came from his deep belief in nonviolence and universal love. For many years, he was either a member or clerk of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee. He shared many insightful articles in the meeting’s newsletter about the history of nonviolence.

David is survived by his wife, Sabina; and their three children, Philip, Esther, and David Richard (Rick).

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