Friends and family gathered Monday afternoon to remember Jim Perkins who
dedicated himself to many areas of community improvement, among them the
Chesterton Hometown Improvement Project (CHIP).
The gathering was held in the garden area at Indian Boundary Rd. and Calumet
Ave., where Perkins spent many volunteer hours planning, planting and
landscaping the Indian Boundary entryway to the downtown.
Fellow CHIP volunteers remembered Perkins fondly and said his legacy lives
on in many ways – through his family, through memories of time spent
together, through his work with CHIP and many others organizations he
volunteered for throughout Porter County.
The group gathered in what Perkins made a special place through his hard
work and leadership - the beautiful entry point into Chesterton. He spent
hours and hours at this intersection, whether working on his plans and
drawings, tending to plants, supervising high schools students on CHIP day,
planting and replanting trees if they didn’t take, preparing soil for pink
petunias, or figuring out how much mulch was needed. He kept a watchful eye
on this location and so it seemed entirely appropriate and fitting to
dedicate this special place to Jim Perkins, CHIP committee members agreed.
CHIP first began in 2004 and most of the founding members were on hand to
dedicate the memorial for Perkins. Since his unexpected death earlier this
year he has been sorely missed at committee meetings.
“Jim was our rock – our foundation. He made us legitimate from the very
beginning – because of his reputation in the community, and the quality
person that he was,” said CHIP committee member Lauren Kroeger. “Jim had
wonderful relationships with everyone in town and he would make things
happen with ease, because he was trusted and respected as a person and a
friend. With Jim, what you saw, was what you got. He was always a team
player, and in doing so, always let us know where he stood. He refused to
over commit, knowing it was far better to do a great job on a manageable
project, than to take on too much and come up short. Jim was always a
gentleman, always humble, and always a loyal friend. We loved – and will
miss – his wonderful smile and laughter,” said Kroeger.
His efforts were not limited to the Indian Boundary Rd. entryway garden -
each ‘Welcome to Chesterton’ area is a product of Perkins’ vision and work,
whether at the EMS, Coffee Creek, Dogwood Park or plantings at Burger King.
He helped place flowering dogwood trees along Indian Boundary Rd., planted
an evergreen at Brummitt Elementary three years ago (a gift from the
Brummitt fourth grade class) and helped with plantings along the new fence
in Thomas Centennial Park.
The CHIP group met in February, in their first meeting without Jim, and felt
deeply that they wanted to dedicate this year’s efforts to Jim. The perfect
monumental rock was found, the plaque written and designed and the
dedication planned. The area is dedicated in his memory with “heartfelt and
deep admiration, respect and love,” Kroeger said.
Committee members will “miss him and will always remember him,” Kroeger