Town Stunned by Death of Community Leader
By Rande Davis
The news of the death of Jake Perkins rippled through the community like a shock wave.
Neighbors and friends watched in recent years as Jake bravely struggled with the personal challenge of kidney failure and having to spend up to fifteen hours every week on dialysis. He had a highly unusual run-in with a bug or insect while playing golf in West Virginia in 2001, and thirty-six hours later he was in an emergency room with a temperature of 106 degrees. The infection that resulted in kidney failure put him on a path in life that would have sunk most people.
This young lawyer, so very active in the community as a leader and volunteer, had devoted most of his personal time, and even a significant part of his professional time, to working on behalf of so many community organizations.
If Jake Perkins had a slogan to live by, it most assuredly was: making every minute count. His sense of urgency seemed to define his life and his leadership style. While the rest of us had the luxury of leisure, he always seemed to have his eye on the clock.
In high school (Class of 1987), he was just about everywhere. He played football, basketball, baseball, and ran indoor track. He played French horn in the band when he wasn’t practicing on the Academic Team and the Math Team. Just so he didn’t get too bored, he was also the Student Government President.
After entering Virginia Tech, he didn’t slow down. He was Speaker of the Student House of Representatives, member of the SGA Executive Council, participated in the Council on Athletics, and was a member of the Residents Hall Federation.
He became an intern with Sen. John Warner (R-VA) for a year and a half and worked as a special education assistant at MCPS before entering the University of Maryland School of Law where he graduated in 1997. He is a member of the Maryland and Virginia bars.
After graduation, he joined a law firm specializing in insurance defense litigation and participated in a major and successful case litigating against appraisal fraud in Baltimore. He ran two firms: Jacob N. Perkins, P.A., and he had partnered with Frank Jamison in Perkins Title, Inc. For him, choosing law was easy. Jake always seemed driven by two passions: the law and helping people.
His community service list is impressive. He had been Poolesville Day Committee Co-Chairman with his fourth year coming up. He was on the Board of Directors of the PHS Booster Club, President of the Poolesville Area Chamber of Commerce, and on the Board of Directors of the Monocacy Lions Club. Over the years, we came to expect to hear his raspy voice announcing the varsity football games at the PHS athletic field. Whether it involved school sports or the Poolesville Athletic Association, Jake has always been involved in youth sports in one way or another.
In the last few weeks, while he continued to experience severe pain without complaining, he helped out with the Monocacy Lions Club auction, he presided over the PACC annual banquet, and continued in leading the Poolesville Day Committee. On the last day of his life, I called Jake because I needed information from him about the Chamber. I heard his voice and remember thinking just how terrible he sounded and that he was not doing well at all. It was the worst I had ever heard him. Without saying a word and without complaining at all, he responded to my request, and this last call was ended as so many, many other calls ended over the years by my simply saying, “Thanks, Jake.”
There are so many ways to describe Jake. These past years as we have gotten to know him, watching him battle the cards dealt him, witnessing his hope for a renewal from a kidney transplant, and being awestruck by his courage in facing such personal tribulation, there is one word that comes to mind: warrior. We think Jake always knew time was running out, but he battled on with determined courage. He was a warrior—a brave heart—in every sense of the word. In the end, the health issues claimed his life, but he claimed a piece of all our lives forever for the warrior he became. He did so much, and we could say so much more, but in the end it comes down to three simple words: “Thank you, Jake.”