Grave of library family namesake is properly marked

Sep. 04, 2013 @ 09:03 PM

Flora McKinnon Perry played a brief but important role in the history of Henderson. But when she died in 1983, she was buried in Elmwood Cemetery without a grave marker.

Her grave lies beside her husband’s, H. Leslie Perry. Nearby are the graves of her father-in-law and mother-in-law, Col. Henry Perry and Jane Hall Perry.

Jennifer Brax, adult services librarian at Perry Memorial Library, discovered the lack of a grave marker when she was researching the history of the Perry family.

To remedy the omission, Perry Memorial Library and the Friends of the Library commissioned Hight Tombstone Company of Henderson to create a grave marker for Flora Perry, using the markers for H. Leslie Perry, Jane Hall Perry and Col. Henry Perry as guides.

On Wednesday, Robert Hight and a crew from his company installed the grave marker for Flora Perry next to a refurbished grave marker for H. Leslie Perry.

Unlike many grave markers, which have lettering carved into the surface of the stone, the markers in the Perry plot have raised letters, and the edges of the markers are bevelled.

“This is a lost art,” Hight said.

The dates on H. Leslie Perry’s tombstone show a life cut short. Born 1887. Died 1923. It was to honor that short life that his parents and widow established the H. Leslie Perry Memorial Library, now renamed the Perry Memorial Library to acknowledge the role of the entire family in establishing the library.

After her husband’s death, Flora worked for a few years in the library bearing his name. In 1930, she went to New York City, where she earned a degree in library services from Columbia University and served as librarian for the Lotos Club, one of the oldest literary clubs in the United States.

Returning to her native South, she worked as librarian at Furman Women’s College before moving to Henderson in 1938. She served as head librarian at Perry until 1946, when she moved back to her hometown of Laurinburg and served as librarian at Flora McDonald College until she retired.

She also made her mark at the college by creating the Flora McKinnon Perry Endowed Book Fund and authoring a book, “James Davis: First North Carolina Printer,” who lived from 1721 to 1785.

She died in 1983 and was interred in the family plot in Elmwood Cemetery. An obituary in the Henderson Daily Dispatch at that time listed some familiar Henderson names as active pallbearers, including A. Augustus Zollicoffer Jr., John H. Zollicoffer Jr., R.G.S. Davis, R.G. Kittrell Jr., John Perry Hall and Bennett H. Perry Jr.

The Friends of the Library and Perry Memorial provided the funds to create the grave marker for Flora Perry and clean the grave marker for H. Leslie Perry.

 

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.