Joseph Samuel Perrin, Professor Emeritus, and the founder and former Chairman of the School of Art and Design at Georgia State University, passed away April 4th after a brief illness. Joe was born in 1923 in Tucker, GA, to George Weston and Rozelle Thornton Perrin. After graduating from Clarkston High School in 1941, he attended Georgia Tech majoring in aeronautical engineering. At the age of 19, he left college to serve his country in World War II as part of the 84th Infantry Division (Railsplitters). He fought throughout the Ardennes Forest in France, and engaged in combat in the Battle for Geilenkirchen and the Battle of the Bulge. After recovering from injuries, Joe was reassigned to Paris where he designed airfields for the Army Air Corps. While in Paris, he had the opportunity to visit many cathedrals and art museums and decided to pursue art as a career rather than engineering. Upon his return, he studied at the Ringling School of Art and the High Museum School of Art. He then earned a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Georgia, and in the early 60s was awarded a Danforth Foundation grant allowing him to complete his post-graduate work in drawing, painting, and sculpture at UCLA. His art career began as a Professor of Art at the University of New Hampshire in 1950. In 1953, he returned to establish the School of Art and Design at Georgia State University. Throughout the next thirty years the GSU art department expanded under his leadership from a one studio program with forty students, to a nationally respected program serving thousands of students in a seven story fine arts facility. Although a nationally recognized artist in his own right, his greatest love was teaching, helping others, and encouraging his art students. He also worked tirelessly to promote the Arts in Atlanta, and in his hometown of Clarkston by helping establish the Clarkston Community Center. He served as the President of the Atlanta Arts Festival, served on the Atlanta Civic Design Commission, was Chairman of the MARTA Arts Council and was instrumental in planning the original Underground Atlanta. He also designed the interior of the West Lake Marta Station. He served as curator of numerous art exhibitions throughout the Southeast. His paintings can be found in the permanent collection of the High Museum of Art, the Coca Cola collection, Mead collection, the Georgia Museum of Art, the Carter Presidential Center, and the Metropolitan Museum Recife, Brazil. Joe was married for 64 years to his wonderful wife Norma. They met as students at the High Museum of Art. She was his partner, encourager, and helper in every facet of his career. He was a devoted father to Chris, Jane, and Josie, and a loving grandfather and great grandfather. Throughout his life, Joe could be found every Sunday teaching Sunday school and attending services at Clarkston Baptist Church with his family. He had a deep faith in God, and his belief in his Savior, Jesus Christ could be seen in the way he helped others, in the way he cared about his students, and how he loved his family. Joe’s family members include: Wife, Norma Jane Howell Perrin (preceded in death). Children: Jane Perrin Layfield and husband, Richard; Josie Perrin Holdaway and husband, Kevin; Chris Perrin (preceded in death); and Whit Perrin Wright and husband, Russ. Grandchildren: Thomas Layfield and wife, Nicole; Weston Layfield and wife, Rachel; Owen Holdaway, Hailey Holdaway, and Nathan Holdaway. Great-grandchildren: Trey Layfield, Wyatt Layfield, Elias Layfield, Samuel Layfield, Owen Layfield, and Layla and Lyric Holdaway. Sister: Rosemary Harrison, Brother-in-law Claude Harrison (preceded in death), Sister-in law Clara Howell, Aunt Margaret Perrin, and many cousins. The family would like to thank all of the caretakers at The Bridge of Lawrenceville for the wonderful care and loving kindness they have shown our dad/grandfather over these past years. We also thank his nurse, Ms. Brenda Carter for her wonderful kindness and care, and for the gentle attention of Camelia Hospice. May God bless you all for the work that you do. A celebration of Joe’s life will be held in the Gwinnett Chapel of Wages and Sons, 1031 Lawrenceville Hwy, Lawrenceville, GA (770-277- 4550) on Sunday, April 13th at 3 PM with Pastor Nick Vipperman officiating. Viewing will be prior to the service from 2:00- 3:00 PM. Interment following the ceremony at Melwood Cemetery, 5170 East Ponce de Leon Avenue, Stone Mtn., GA. All friends, family, and former students are invited. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Clarkston International Bible Church – 3895 Church Street, Clarkston, GA 30021 or The Pregnancy Resource Center of Gwinnett – 337 W. Pike Street, Lawrenceville, GA 30046

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  1. I simply want to say that Joe was one of the greatest influences in my life. He taught me (and so many others) to look at the world in a different and creative way–his use of color and shape, his fascination with light and form and most of all his passion for art itself was pervasive and tremendously infectious. I would walk from my grandparent’s home in Clarkston, down the street to “Cousin Joe’s” home and bright studio to smell gesso and raw canvas, turpentine, clay, run my fingers over 30 lb. watercolor paper blocks and to watch him teach and paint. Joe always had a smile and a joke for everyone—the story is that he was one of the great jitterbug dancers of all time. I love him and I will miss him —he was truly one of a kind.

  2. I will truly miss Mr. Perrin singing the old hymns with Nancy and I at The Bridge on Saturday mornings. He knew them all by heart. I tried to convince him to sing bass but he wouldn’t. He always greeted us with “Where did you go to school?” Each time I would change my college just to see what comment he would come up with! He was quite the gentleman. We will save him a chair in our choir. Love, Terry$

  3. As surrogate father to the students and faculty at the School of Art and Design at Georgia State University, Mr. Perrin was consistently a guiding force for the entire department. His true passion for the visual arts was only exceeded by his commitment to providing the best learning experience for his beloved students. He served us with strength, understanding, and dedication to all aspects of the visual arts. Even though his own career was dominated by Painting, he was clearly aware of the need for a comprehensive, inclusive Visual Art arena.
    His influence on the hundreds of art majors at Georgia State University will continue to be expanded as each creative wave produces overlapping ripples and new possibilities. Mr. Perrin lived a life of enrichment; he set an example of leadership in the visual aspects of every human experience.
    We owe him much that can never be repaid. Personally, I am grateful to have been sheltered under his wing, carefully nurtured, and lovingly thrown out of the nest!

  4. Joe and Rosemary Perrin Harrison were a big part of my early life, since our mothers were sisters. Our families were close then. I regret that we have not had very many contacts over the years except for infrequent attendance at family reunions. But I remember well Joe’s putting me on his shoulders when I was a child and walking around town with me. He was a smart, talented and handsome young man and Rosemary was a smart and lovely young woman with a beautiful singing voice; They were patient and loving with their young cousin and are a part of me always. Over the years I also loved their partners in marriage, Norma and Claude, and then Joe and Norma’s children, Chris, Jane and Josie. Losing Chris was an unbelievable happening.Thank you for the chance to put in writing what I would find it hard to say in person after so long a time apart. I’m thinking of all of you. Love, Janet Segers Gary

  5. We are so sorry to hear of Mr Perrin’s passing. We do not know him personally but he and his wife were affiliated with North Metro Firsr Baptist and we have sent several notes to let him know we were praying for both he and his wife. From what I’ve just read he must have been a wonderful Christian man. I’m sure God is glad to have him in Heaven. Many the Holy Spirit give special comfort to his family.
    Bobby and Sylvia Thomas
    North Metro First Baptist Church
    Lawrenceville, GA

  6. We are so sorry to hear of Mr Perrin’s passing. We do not know him personally but he and his wife were affiliated with North Metro Firsr Baptist and we have sent several notes to let him know we were praying for both he and his wife. From what I’ve just read he must have been a wonderful Christian man. I’m sure God is glad to have him in Heaven. Many the Holy Spirit give special comfort to his family.

  7. I am very sorry to the passing of Joe Perrin, my sincere condolences to his family. I was very fortunate to have meet Joe, I am an emerging artists, and was one of his students at his studio in Roswell. Joe help me a lot to develop my art , and I was very honor to have two of my pieces I created in one of his classes, to be hung in the studio, by Joe request.

  8. My mother, Lilly Sibley Evans, studied with Joe at GA State and also at the Atlanta Artist’s Club. She was an older student and Joe was always very encouraging of her. After she had a stroke in the late 80’s we went to his house one evening to an artist’s meeting. She brought some of her paintings and Joe was so welcoming to her. I know my mother appreciated all his ideas and comments.

  9. I am so sorry to hear of his passing. To me he was absolutely the finest person anyone could imagine. I am grateful when I could financially no longer go to Georgia State University he taught me from his classes and his home and encouraged me in all the perfect ways to help me grow into a viable artist. It is because of his ability to be an example to others, encourage them, lead and direct them that I became able to live as a working artist for 43 years thru all its ups and downs. I now teach and give of my time to the community as he did. He blessed us all! It is my hope I can be an example to others and give some of what he taught me to them.

  10. I didn’t know Mr. Perrin but I see the life and legacy he lived through the words written about him. I’m researching him and seeing that his contribution to the Atlanta art community is great. Atlanta owes so much to his leadership on so many levels. I only hope that my life will be as meaningful and will reach as many people as he did. I pray that Truth abides in my actions and in my words to create artful expressions that last a lifetime. Thank you Mr. Perrin!

  11. It was my pleasure to be in Joe Perrin’s first class at Georgia State College (then the Atlanta Division of UG). Regrettably, I was not an art major although it was my choice. Many years later, while living in New Orleans, I was able to pursue art and chose watercolor as my medium. When visiting my parents in Roswell, I contacted Mr. Perrin. He invited me to join his critique at his home studio. After that, every time I was in town, I was welcomed at his studio. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to attend the gala the City of Atlanta, Georgia State College, and his many admirers held to recognize his art, his service to the College, the city of Atlanta and surroundings, and his many other accomplishments. As with his students and other artist, he encouraged me in my work, secured exhibition opportunities for me, and promoted sales. Recently, I moved to Kennesaw from California and have often thought of Mr. Perrin hoping to again share the love of art with him and others. I dreaded the possibility of that not being possible and, to my great regret, have just learned the truth of it.

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