Regina Perkoski, 60, teacher, advocate for cancer patients

October 30, 2005|By LIZ F. KAY | LIZ F. KAY,SUN REPORTER

Regina D. "Rikki" Perkoski, a former Baltimore County middle school teacher and administrator who mentored fellow ovarian cancer survivors, died of complications of the disease Wednesday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. She was 60 and lived in Cub Hill.

Mrs. Perkoski was born Regina Berger in Baltimore's Forest Park neighborhood, the youngest of three daughters, said her husband, David J. Perkoski. The family moved to eastern Baltimore County in the 1950s, where her father operated a restaurant and bar. She graduated from Sparrows Point High School and married David Rummel in 1965.

While her husband was stationed in Baumholder, Germany, with the U.S. Army, she taught GED courses for the U.S. Department of Defense. She and Mr. Rummel later divorced.

When she returned to the United States, she became one of Maryland's first female insurance adjusters for the Home Insurance Company and Allstate Insurance. In 1970, she married Boyd E. Holm, who died of lung cancer in 1973.

While studying education at Towson University, she met Mr. Perkoski, and they married in 1977. A year later, she earned her undergraduate degree in education.

When her mother died, Mrs. Perkoski took over management of the Skyline Room, a restaurant on top of a high-rise senior-citizen community known for its views of Baltimore's skyline. The Perkoskis later sold the business.

She re-entered the classroom in 1979, teaching sixth-grade English at Victory Villa Elementary School, and moved to Middle River Middle School in 1983. She taught sixth- and seventh-graders at General John Stricker Middle School for three years, until 1989. She served as a teacher, department chairwoman and an administrator at Loch Raven Academy from 1989 to 2000 and helped establish magnet programs there.

She retired in 2001 after one year as assistant principal of Deep Creek Middle School.

"She had energy in the workaholic vein," said Mr. Perkoski, who owns a construction company.

Mrs. Perkoski had maintained this drive despite a diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 1994, enduring 13 rounds of chemotherapy and five major operations. After leaving the school system, she continued to teach English and speech at TESST College of Technology in Towson until 2004.

Mrs. Perkoski inspired hope in other ovarian cancer patients locally as a member of Hopewell, a cancer survivors' group, and across the country, as well as in the United Kingdom via e-mail.

"When they were newly diagnosed, they looked at her with such hope for themselves that they could manage this terrible disease for as long as she had," Hopewell group leader Nancy-Bets Hay wrote to Mr. Perkoski in an e-mail.

Mrs. Perkoski helped inform medical professionals about the patient experience. One month before her death, she gave a presentation on long-term care at Johns Hopkins Hospital to oncology nurses and physicians.

"She had a disease for 12 years that she knew she wasn't going to survive. She definitely was a fighter," Mr. Perkoski said.

She enjoyed growing flowers, making wreaths and needlepoint and was a devoted fan of the University of Maryland baseball team as well as the Baltimore Ravens. Through her illness, the Perkoskis held Ravens game parties in her hospital room.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Chapel of the St. Paul's School for Boys, 11152 Falls Road, Brooklandville.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by a son, David R. Rummel of Perry Hall; two daughters, Holly Holm and Erin Perkoski, both of Towson; two sisters, Clare Ash of London and Joyce Beach of San Francisco; and four grandsons.

liz.kay@baltsun.com

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