Founder of local cancer foundation dies at 77


Nan Shea “Mickey” Perkins loved the Aiken community and spent many years showing it.

Perkins, 77, passed away Friday in Charleston. Before she moved in 2011, Perkins lived in Aiken for a little more than five decades and spent some of those years raising cancer awareness. Perkins was a founding boarding member of the Savannah River Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit established in 2003, as well as helped facilitate the Breast Cancer Support Group with the American Cancer Society.

“She was a great help in starting the Savannah River Cancer Foundation,” said John Cunningham, who was another founding board member of the nonprofit. “It’s grown as a result of her and a lot of involvement of individuals in the community.”

Peg Blosser, who joined the board six months after the foundation was created, said Perkins was a fun person to be around and had great knowledge of Aiken even though she wasn’t a native. Perkins was originally from Lynchburg, Va., and was a graduate of Randolph Macon Woman’s College.

“She a very confident gal who pretty much put up with no nonsense from anybody,” Blosser said.

Bob Queen, another founding board member who first met her through the American Cancer Society, said Perkins had a great sense of humor but when it was time for business, she would take her work seriously.

“She was very energetic, very caring,” Queen said.

Perkins moved to Aiken in 1960 and was married to the late Dr. William Clopton Perkins Sr. She was headmistress of Aiken Day School and a teacher from 1983 to 1987. Perkins was involved in the community in a variety of ways from serving as president to the Aiken Civic Ballet to being the first vice president of the Aiken Junior Woman’s Club just to name a few organizations that she touched over the years.

Perkins also volunteered for Hitchcock Rehabilitation Center in hospice.

Perkins was named Woman of the Year by the Aiken Chamber of Commerce in 1993 and in that same year, received the American Cancer Society’s Outstanding Service Award. In 2004, she was named Volunteer of the Year by Hitchcock Healthcare.

“What a wonderful lady,” reminisced Queen. “She brought a lot to the community – that’s for sure.”

Perkins is survived by her five children. A Requiem Mass will take place today at 10 a.m. at St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church.

Donations can be made in Perkins’ memory to the Savannah River Cancer Foundation at P.O. Box 3694, Aiken, SC 29802.