Constance “Connie” Marie Perkins Roberts died peacefully at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, CA on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at age 75.
Connie is survived by her brother Harold Martin Perkins (Poway, CA), daughters Shauna Lynne Hogan (Poway, CA) and Cheryl Anne Janicki (El Cajon, CA), and grandchildren Shelbi Marie Hogan, Halli Anne Hogan and Chloe Marie Janicki. She was preceded in death by her brother Robert L Perkins, 64, her sister, Linda Davis, 65 and her nephew Robert Lee Perkins, 36.
A native San Diegan, Connie was born on February 21, 1943 to Harold Leroy Perkins and Elsa Margaret Perkins. Her family was poor, and her parents worked long hours and made many sacrifices as they struggled to raise four children. Connie spoke of how her parents would put cardboard in their own shoes, so they could buy shoes for the kids.
As the eldest of four children, Connie had many responsibilities both at home and in the family’s small, neighborhood grocery store. She willingly took them on as she believed they all had to work together and take care of each other.
She grew up in the 40’s and 50’s and knew at an early age that she wanted to go to college and have a career, in addition to the expected marriage and a family. Connie’s mother made costumes for her dance class and her dad took her to the high school football games on Friday nights. It was a very special time that shaped Connie to be the woman that we all know and love. Her father instilled in her that she could do anything that she set her mind to. She felt loved, supported and learned the meaning of unconditional love.
While in junior and high school Connie was involved in baton twirling, marching bands, and marching in parades. She graduated from Helix High School in 1960 and was crowned a Job’s Daughters honorary queen. Her involvement in Job’s daughters brought her great joy, confidence and long-lasting friendships.
She was the first in her family to go to college. She worked hard to get a scholarship at Cal Western University so she could still help at the family store. Her school offered free tuition if she maintained high scholastic scores and participated on the speech team. She flourished in the academic environment.
Connie met and married a wonderful man, (James Edward) “Ed” Roberts, during her junior year in college. The following year, while Connie was still a student, she gave birth to their first child, Shauna. This was a real challenge. Connie’s mother used to take Shauna to school in between classes so Connie could breast feed her.
Connie finished her senior year, took her final exams when Shauna was 10 days old and graduated with honors. Soon after that she began working for the then San Diego County Welfare Department as an eligibility worker and spent the next 35 years climbing the career ladder. She was among the first women to reach an executive level position in a County of San Diego Department.
During her career, Connie was asked to take the lead in several important programs, including
• Special assignment in 1973 to organize and implement the County’s transition of Old Age Security, Aid to the Disabled, and Aid to the Blind programs to the Federal Social Security Income (SSI) Program.
• Lead role for a 1975 effort to prepare the County of San Diego for implementing the new Federal Child Support law.
• Division Chief of the County’s Income Maintenance Bureau in 1979 with responsibility for managing more than 133,000 welfare cases.
• Chief of Staff in 1981, during the federal reorganization of the Public Welfare Department, taking charge of the entire Income Maintenance Bureau.
• Deputy Director of the Community Relations Bureau in 1988, working under Jake Jacobson who asked her to lead his number one priority of developing a preventative and collaborative approach to helping children and families in need. This led directly to Connie’s work in what would be called New Beginnings. Through her leadership with this effort, Connie quickly became a recognized leader in the field of service integration and inter-agency collaboration at the local, regional, state national levels. Dozens of representatives of agencies across the United States (and even as far away as Australia) came to visit the Demonstration Center to see the successful project so they could begin developing collaborative projects in their regions.
• In 1994, in conjunction with the Institute for Collaborative Management, a Washington DC think tank, Connie presented findings to Hillary Clinton and Al Gore as part of a presidential taskforce on healthcare reform.
Advocating for collaborative services was not easy. Many of her colleagues scoffed. But Connie knew that change was difficult, and she never allowed the naysayers to darken the light of her vision.
Following her retirement from the county, Connie continued to feed her passion for improving the lives of children and families as a consultant and trainer. She worked with other cities, counties, school districts and nonprofits to assist them in their efforts to partner and collaborate to improve services in their communities.
Only when her health required it, did Connie retire completely from the work she loved. She also wanted to devote more time to her family, especially her grandchildren, whom she loved more than anything. She frequently bragged and shared photos of her lovely girls with coworkers and friends.
After she retired she knew that she wanted to spend her time embracing life and connecting with others, and intentionally evolve as a person whose focus was no longer on accumulating things and professional achievements, but rather on relationships. Her calendar was no longer about meetings and projects but about plans to be with the people that she cared about and doing the things she loved to do. She wanted to find new ways to contribute and help others.
Connie wanted the people in her life to know how much she loved and appreciated them, and to know how they had contributed to her life. She wanted to have no regrets, and to leave no words unspoken. Before Connie passed away she wrote of the many memorable moments in her life:
• At the top of her list was both of her marriages and the births of her beautiful daughters and granddaughters.
• She remembered the camping trips her family took to the mountains at Green River Falls. They slept in tents and her mom cooked on an open fire. She had fun sliding down the rocks at the falls and exploring the beautiful mountain setting.
• Connie explained how her extended family was an integral part of her life. Having her grandparents, aunts and cousins living close to one another was so special. She talked about the bond that she had with her aunt and cousins, Carolyn, Susan and Darlene, and how they were more like sisters. They were inseparable, calling themselves the “Comanche Gang” and being quite mischievous.
• Due to her love of football, being a San Diego Chargerette was an exciting time in Connie’s life. Although she was a volunteer, they gave her tickets to the games. This meant her dad would be at every game watching with pride. She was thrilled to be on the field with players like Paul Lowe and Lance Allworth.
• Being a fanatical Charger fan certainly has had its memorable moments, ( one time going to the Super Bowl) but also many that she wanted to forget. Thinking of her many years of as a season ticket holder and her special friends in section F39 always made her smile.
• Connie loved to dance. She started dancing when she was three years old. She grew up dancing with her Aunt Darlene, performed at the San Diego County /Del Mar Fair and got hooked on belly dancing. She helped create the California Belly Dance Association and enjoyed performing for several years.
• Connie had many incredible memories from her many travels. She was fortunate to travel to many locations within the US, including Hawaii. She traveled abroad with Fran to England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Mexico, the Caribbean and Canada. Her favorite places were Sorrento, Italy and Capri. She fell in love with their beauty, serenity, and the people.
• In college she studied sociology and psychology and thought she would like to be a probation officer. But because she needed a job right away after graduating, Connie went to work at the San Diego County Welfare Department. Little did she know what opportunities she would have, what lifelong friends she would make and what challenges she would face.
• She wrote of the mentors she had who were critical to her professional development. Two in particular were, Grace Brown and Marlene Kruger.
Connie eventually obtained her Master’s Degree in Public Administration and wrote her thesis on the “Similarities and Differences between Male and Female Managers”. Connie loved mentoring and gained such joy from seeing those who worked for her progress and achieve success.
• Last, but far from least, her work with “New Beginnings” was the most memorable achievement of her professional life and she treasured the very special people it brought into her life.
Connie lived her values every day in every setting and every sense. She was kind, inclusive, loyal, and had a generosity of spirit. She was tenacious about her passions and optimistic about possibilities. She brought joy to her work and boundless love to her friends. She lived life to the fullest. And she was a master at picking the perfect birthday and Christmas cards. She will be deeply missed.
Upcoming celebration of life service on Saturday, July 14, 2018 at 11 am at San Carlos United Methodist Church.
Celebration of Life
- Date: July 14, 2018
- Time: 11:00 AM
- Location: San Carlos Methodist Church
- Address: 6554 Cowles Mt. Blvd. San Diego, CA 92119
- Directions: San Carlos Methodist Church