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Owen Perkins '82


In the thick of the pandemic, the Gilman Class of ’82 celebrated its 50th reunion in grand style — an occasion “Of Primary Importance,” as the old Lower School newspaper founded by John Schmick’s first class read across the banner. I know, I know, it doesn’t add up, and I was told there would be no math. But before Mr. Culbertson goes into conniptions, we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of our first day of school in the Gilman first grade, and we had some 16 or 17 classmates — more than half our inaugural roster — make the virtual reunion.

Attendees included George Doub, Van Dorsey, David Rothschild, Wells Obrecht, John Morrell, Van Dorsey, Ken Brown, Wendell Phillips, Mark Sherman, Ned Wagner, Alberto Zapata, David Wright, Willy Howard, Ricky Friedman, Dan Jarrett, and me, Owen Perkins. Faculty members Rob Harwood and Leith Herman also joined us, and as Ken put it, our computer screens were filled with “aged ancient history.”

After sharing memories of Temple Grassi, Mrs. Duay, Mr. Merrick’s legendary musicals (“The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” — sorry to bring back trauma, Dave!), our Dancing Doobie second grade teach, Candy Rosenberg, Wendell’s “I’m Going to Get You Sucker” goldfish shoes, and the legendary sleepover birthday parties he hosted, snakes and chickens in Mr. Webb’s science class, dodgeball, a myriad of musical memories, Van’s Civil War fox holes on the hills by the playground, and George Doub’s endless efforts to wrestle “Birds on the Wing” from me while I maintained a streak of at least 33 times checking it out from the library (without a fine) to relish the tale of the Orioles 1966 World Series sweep of the Dodgers, we turned to an exciting version of Show and Tell that would make Antiques Roadshow green with envy.

We brought some things we’d made at Gilman to share, and John Morrell kicked it off with his set of salad servers, along with a plant stand, both returned to the original manufacturer when his mom sold her house. George Doub brought a clay impression of a pressed leaf from Mr. Hilliard’s shop class — which we need not remind anyone was not a playground. I brought a beautiful lamp, which looked surprisingly like a 2x2 block of wood with a lightbulb twisted into it along with a toolbox that still carries my essential hammers and spare saw blades. David Rothschild brought a spectacular Pat O’Brien original race car drawing from second grade. Pat didn’t join until second grade, but he sent word that he still has clay in his clothes from Mrs. Feldman’s art class.

We tried to keep it short, but we ended up having to turn the lights out when it got close to three hours of reminiscing and reuniting. The last 45 minutes or so naturally evolved into a discussion of the changing times we navigated at Gilman, as the School went through groundbreaking transitions in striving toward a student body that better reflected our city’s racial, economic, and religious diversity. It’s been exciting to see Gilman up the ante on these ongoing efforts over the past couple of years, recognizing our challenging history and keeping focused on building a better future. We were all incredibly proud to reconnect with friends after 50 years and to see how those little Lower Schoolers turned into remarkable men we’re honored and fortunate to still call friends.

A year later, I hit the road for a 5,000-mile road trip with my 16-year-old dog, Willy, that started in Chicago with a post Rockies-Cubs double-header meet-up with Andy Owens and David Reahl — both doing great and sights for sore eyes — and ended with a celebration of my mom’s life that brought me back to Baltimore with Wells and Dave and a bunch of Baltimorean neighborhood friends.

I remain a baseball writer, and I was blown away last month to win six awards for Sports Reporting, Sports Features, and Sports Columns from the Society of Professional Journalism. The last couple years have been especially gratifying, as I’ve seen Major League Baseball finally live up to the promise the game made 75 years ago when Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, giving me the opportunity to address everything from social justice, civil rights, climate change, and voting rights through the lens of baseball. And speaking of voting rights, I remain active in community organizing and public advocacy, with my main focus on getting the corrupting influence of big money out of our politics. We’re in our first cycle of publicly financed elections in Denver after years of drafting legislation and working to get it passed with an astounding 71% vote at the polls — winning every precinct in the city! We’ve now passed or are working on passing major campaign finance reform in the six biggest cities in Colorado, and we’re helping similar efforts in cities, counties, and states across the country, as well as working on efforts to preserve the democratic ideal of fair elections on the national level.

It was great to be back in Baltimore with now 17-year-old Willy and to see everyone at the 40th reunion, and though I’m still making my way home to Colorado as I write, I can’t wait for the 45th! Thanks again for all your work on behalf of our class. It was great to see you and everyone last month.


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