Academy of Legends

Written by admin   // July 7, 2011   // 0 Comments

Johnny L. Thomas

Sworn into office on April 21, 2008, Johnny L. Thomas is serving his first full term on the Milwaukee County Board as the 18th District Supervisor, and he’s been busy making ensuring his voice is heard and representing the interests of his constituents since.

A Milwaukee native, Supervisor Thomas is a graduate of UW-Milwaukee (UWM) where he earned his undergraduate degree in Accounting. He also holds a Master of Business Administration Degree from Cardinal Stritch University, which comes in handy since he serves as Vice-Chairman of the Finance and Audit Committee and also serves on the Economic and Community Development Committee and the Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee.

As a resident of the 18th District, Supervisor Thomas is committed to economic development, personal safety and quality of life issues that affect residents of Milwaukee. He is focused on ensuring a responsive, accessible and accountable government for the citizens of Milwaukee County.

Supervisor Thomas and his wife Yolanda are the proud parents Justin and Jordan. They are members of Christ the King Baptist Church and reside on Milwaukee’s northwest side.

Since taking office, Supervisor Thomas has rolled up his sleeves to fight for his district and works hard to ensure he stays in touch with them in the community and through various forms of media. He is approachable and focused on improving the quality of life in Milwaukee and making a difference in the community he calls home.

Will and Hilda Perkins

Virtually every Black celebrity, sports figure, and politician who visits Milwaukee stops by Mr. Perkins’ Family Restaurant, and the myriad of photos on the walls of the restaurant prove it. From Green Bay Packer greats, to Milwaukee Bucks’ stars, to Michael Jordan, to actors and singers—for decades they’ve all found their way to the restaurant to satisfy their craving for good old home-cooked food.

Will and Hilda Perkins started the restaurant in 1969 and it’s been a community mainstay since. From the postal worker to teachers, to garbage collectors and politicians, everyone comes to the 45-seat diner. No reservations are required and everyone is treated the same. The small restaurant never expanded because the small size was part of the ambiance. When you were there, you were among friends. And those friends consisted of all the top sports celebrities, politicians and neighborhood folks from all walks of life.

After years of working long hours in the restaurant, the Perkins retired in 1999, turning the keys over to their son, Will, Jr., and his wife Cherry. But they returned to help out when Will Jr. was diagnosed with cancer and later died.

Recently Will Perkins, Sr. and his wife were honored by ACT Business Improvement District for the for their more than 42 years of contributions to the neighborhood

Mr. Perkins is more than a restaurant, it’s an institution. When you want to know the latest gossip in the community – you can find it at Mr. Perkins. If you want to be among friends, they were at Mr. Perkins. Though the future of the restaurant remains uncertain, the memories of the good times, good food and good fellowship are forever etched in the minds and hearts of those who enjoyed the soul food and warm ambiance of Mr. Perkins’ Family Restaurant.

Zella Nash

Zella Nash was the consummate community activist until her death at 102 years old. Whether she attended Saturday’s Community Brainstorming meeting, political meetings or a meet and greet at the Clinton E. Rose Senior Center, Nash got around and made sure her voice was heard.

Born in Wynne, Arkansas, Nash came to Milwaukee in the early 1940s, and got involved in politics almost as soon as she arrived. She met and married her husband, George Nash, while working as a secretary for a coal delivery company. He passed away in 1970.

When an attorney friend wanted to become Milwaukee’s first black alderman, Nash helped, but after he lost his bid for election she realized that the reason for his lost was that those who might have voted for him didn’t go to the polls. So when Attorney Vel Phillips ran for alderman, Nash volunteered to work on the campaign and did everything she could to help, which included months of knocking on doors, registering voters and talking up Phillips to community organizations, friends and relatives.

Nash was always quick to volunteer and work to make Milwaukee a better place. She didn’t shy away from hard work. She also served as a poll worker for 45 years, until she finally retired from this task at the young age of 89.

In between elections, Nash found time to organize two senior groups, The 72 Action Club and the 5W’s (We Will Work Won’t We). In the 1960s, she was active with one of Milwaukee’s most powerful senior groups called Project Involve.

Nash was no stranger to statewide or national politics. She regularly traveled to Madison to speak with governors and the Legislature. In 1972, Gov. Patrick Lucey selected her as one of 12 state delegates to the Conference on Aging in Washington, D.C. She was invited to a prayer breakfast for Jimmy Carter’s inauguration in 1977. And during former President Bill Clinton’s swearing in ceremony in 1993, Nash watched from a reserved seat and attended one of the balls.

Nash spent her life working and advocating for others—particularly senior citizens. Comfortable speaking to senior citizen residents, heads of state or the White House, Nash showed Milwaukeeans how one person can make a difference.

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