Mystery of Sandston USO dancer solved

When Jean Holman picked up a copy of the April 7 Henrico Citizen, she never expected to see a photo of her late mother on the cover.

But in a story written about volunteers at the Central Virginia USO (and captioned "An unidentified couple dance at the Sandston USO Club in the 1940s"), there was Patricia "Pat" Royal Perkinson, smiling as she danced with a young soldier.

"I loved the picture," said Holman. "I had never seen it before, but my dad had told me she went to USO dances before they were married."

Soon after contacting the Citizen to identify the "mystery woman" in the photo, she paid a visit to her father, Herbert R. "Bert" Perkinson, Jr., who now lives in Middlesex County.

Pat Perkinson
Bert and Pat met while she was in college at RPI and had a part-time job in which she worked with Bert's mother.

"My dad's mother told her about having a son in the Army serving in the Pacific and suggested that she write to him, which she did for some time," said Holman.  "My parents met face-to-face for the first time in 1946 when he came home from the war, and they were married the same year." 

A long-time Sandston resident and Highland Springs H.S. alum, Pat Perkinson went on to graduate from RPI (now VCU). Holman says the USO picture was taken while she was in college.

The Perkinsons moved to Lakeside the year after they married and lived in Henrico County more than 40 years. Holman and her brother (Russ Perkinson, now a Mechanicsville resident) attended the original Hermitage H.S., which later became Moody M.S.

Bert served as director of program management for the Virginia Dept. of Transportation, while Pat's career included a stint as press aide to Governor Mills E. Godwin Jr. during his first term, and as Secretary of the Commonwealth during his later term. She also served as a legislative assistant to state senators Paul Manns and Frederick Gray; wrote a garden advice column that ran for 18 years in the Richmond Times-Dispatch; and was director of community services for J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

In addition, she earned accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America and handled public relations for local organizations that included the Richmond Symphony, Valentine Museum, and March of Dimes.  Virginia Press Women named her Woman of Distinction and twice named her Press Woman of the Year.

After retiring, Holman's parents moved in the late 80's to the antebellum home in Middlesex County that had been in Pat's family and which the couple had bought and restored. 

"She was interested in just about everything and always had one project after the other," said Holman in an obituary when her mother passed away last year.

"She was truly a remarkable woman."

Now the question is: can anyone identify the soldier who is Pat Perkinson's mystery dance partner?

For a more detailed view of the USO photo (above) from the 1940s, or to read the article that appeared in April, visit HenricoCitizen.com and search “USO.”
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Battles and Leaders, a military book discussion group, will meet from 7 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. at Varina Library. Enjoy an evening of lively discussion focused on the battles, leaders and wars that have shaped world history. The title for September is “Cross of Iron” by Willi Heinrich. For details, call 501-1980 or visit http://www.henricolibrary.org. Full text

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