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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.”


Community

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Is there an Echo in here?

‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.

But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.

That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

New Italian restaurant opens in Short Pump

Charlottesville's Bella’s Restaurant recently opened a location in Short Pump Village, at 11408 West Broad Street. The restaurant is owned by Valeria Biesnti, a native of Rome who arrived in the U.S. at age 21 and later became a U.S. citizen. With her restaurants, Bisenti has sought to create an ambiance that welcomes diners in a casual setting, like her favorites from her hometown. > Read more.

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