Mayor's mother instilled Christian values in her children

Cutline: Lena Estelle Perriman instilled in her son, Madison Mayor Fred Perriman, a devotion to Jesus Christ.

Photo credit: Shellie Smitley


Cutline: Mayor Fred Perriman attributes his accomplishments in life to the character-building values instilled in him by his mother.

Mayor Fred Perriman attributes his accomplishments to the values his mother, Morgan County native Lena Estelle Perriman, instilled in all seven of her children.

Perriman said his mother was a woman of love and grace right up to a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer at the age of 55, during a time that treatment was scarce.

“In just a matter of time, she was gone,” Perriman said thoughtfully.

She became widowed when her husband, 39, passed away from pneumonia. She spent most of her life employed as a domestic worker.

“We sharecropped,” Perriman said. “Every year she would can enough food to get us through the winter.”

The single-parent family raised hogs and cows and gardened. Perriman and his siblings helped with chores and used brush brooms to help sweep the dirt yard. Those tasks kept the children’s minds from becoming idle, he said.

 “You milked the cow and you got your buttermilk, you know?” he said and added that the family purchased flour and syrup from farmers in the community. “Even though life was a struggle, it was simple.”

 Perriman said his mother sacrificed herself to ensure her children had what they needed. She demanded respect from them and enforced curfews. Each child was expected to have a part-time job. Perriman delivered papers.

“I would go early Sunday mornings to deliver those “Grit” papers for 15 cents,” he said. The money he earned in high school picking cotton and peaches and working at the A&P grocery store was contributed to the family. His mom would allow him to keep a portion of it for spending, but the rest was put back for school clothes.

Lena passed down the family values she was instilled with as one of ten children. The family was close-knit, and her dad hunted and sold pelts for a living.

“There was peace in our home,” Perriman said. “I think she did well.”

Perriman has fond memories of the three meals a day his mother provided for the children.

“We always had an excellent meal on Sunday.”


After graduating from Pearl High School, Perriman went to banking school. He worked in th e return department of Fulton Bank.


“She was glad I had made it in life,” he said and added that she knew the values she instilled in her children had paid off. His mother inspired him that he could achieve whatever he wanted through possessing a solid character. She gave him a foundation to build a better life for himself than she had.


Perriman also has a degree in ministry from Interdenominational Theological School. That is something he also attributes to his mother. She depended on her faith to get her through tough times.


“We had to go to church every Sunday morning,” he said. “Through Jesus there is nothing you can’t do in this life, if you do not have him, you will be a failure.”

Perriman said his mother’s greatest gift to him was setting the example of a Christian life.

“She made it with seven kids with Jesus Christ and I am making it with a wife and three kids with Jesus Christ,” he said.

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