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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 23, 2019   |   Ithaca, NY

News

College dedicates bench to deceased student

A bench surrounded by flowers is situated a few steps away from the Hill Center and overlooks the Dillingham Fountains and Cayuga Lake. The bench is decorated with a plaque inscribed with the name of former Ithaca College student Kelly Perkins, who died in a car accident in March. 

The bench was dedicated to Perkins on Oct. 4. Perkins was killed in a car accident March 4 while traveling back to campus from her home in Berkshire, New York. Perkins lost control while driving her car on the snow-covered roadway and crossed into the path of a pickup truck, according to the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office. Perkins was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Approximately 30 students, staff and faculty attended the dedication. Her parents; Enoch Perkins, a fire protection specialist in the Office of Environmental Health and Safety; and Debbie Perkins, facilities attendant in the Office of Residential Life, sat on the bench during the dedication.

Kelly worked for both the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management and the Office of Residential Life during her freshman year at the college. Bill Kerry, director of Public Safety, said he was originally thinking of placing the bench near Public Safety or near the Office of Residential Life. After talking to her parents, he said it was clear that the bench should be on the lawn outside Hill Center. 

“When we talked to Enoch and Debbie, it wasn’t even a hesitation when they said this is her favorite spot,” Kerry said. 

Enoch said Kelly was set on coming to the college. She did not apply to any other school to the dismay of her high school counselor.

“Kelly was a true Bomber,” Enoch said. “Some people say she probably came out wearing Ithaca College blue.” 

Tearing up, Enoch said both Kelly and her brother Eric Perkins grew up at the college, viewing it as their second home. He said that he and Debbie decided on Kelly’s name while on campus. While Debbie was pregnant with Kelly, she sat down to lunch with Enoch one day and they picked the name, he said. 

“Kelly was an angel sent from heaven to give us 19 beautiful years,” Enoch said. “And we’re glad that we could share some of those 19 years with you guys.” 

Ronald Trunzo, associate director of the Office of Residential Life and Judicial Affairs, said he worked with Kelly when she was an office assistant in the Ithaca College Circle Apartments. 

“I would just say this is such a beautiful tribute to Kelly,” Trunzo said. “I’ve worked on college campuses for over 20 years, and I’m always touched by special places on campus. And I believe that this is truly one of those — that you have someplace where we can gather to look at this beautiful view.” 

Ithaca College President Shirley M. Collado said the bench is a permanent reminder of Kelly’s spirit and her love for the community. 

“What this bench and this space represents is that when there’s loss and there’s pain, we stand together in community side by side,” Collado said. “I do think it’s important that each and every one of us take a moment once in a while, sit on this bench, stand at this point and take it all in because this was more than her college. This is where she grew up, and it can be so many more things for so many people beyond her short years on this earth with us.”

Ashley Stalnecker can be reached at astalnecker@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @Ashley_Stal