From farm girl to teenage mother to prominent business woman, “”Mama Susie”” Perkins was an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and visionary who provided jobs and homes to thousands of people and became known as one of the wealthiest Black woman in Colorado Springs.
Mama Susie was born September 27, 1902 to Tom and Lila Brown Harrison in Winona, Mississippi and gave birth to her only son, Thomas Alpha Wright, when she was 14 years old. She passed away December 3, 2000 at 98 years of age and was preceded in death by her husband William Harvey Perkins and her brother, Alfie “”Round Boy”” Harrison.
As a girl, Mama Susie saw her grandparents evicted from their farm by the owner and declared, “”I promised God that if I ever got grown and had children, I’d own my own home and nobody but God would take it away from me.”” Her mother, Lila, suffered from asthma and heart trouble for most of her life and was told by a doctor she wouldn’t have long to live. They moved to Colorado Springs in 1937 where Lila’s health improved, and she actively lived for 30 more years.
While in Colorado Springs, Mama Susie made her own distinctive mark on the civic and business world for more than half a century. She purchased her first truck and grew and operated her own trash hauling business for 12 years when few Black people – let alone women – owned businesses. By the time she sold her trash hauling business, she had 7 trucks and 7 crews.
Mama Susie married William “”Daddy Bill”” Perkins on June 7, 1947 and for a short time they owned “”Bill and Susie’s Cafe”” on Colorado Avenue.
Mama Susie used her businesses’ earnings to buy 100 rental properties over the years in downtown Colorado Springs and renovated them with the help of her husband and family. She was also unique for renting to those no one else would, including military, underprivileged families, and people of color.
Mama Susie was a great supporter of St. John Baptist Church and gave liberally to the poor and needy. She was a charter member of the NHACS and was named “”Woman of the Year”” by the Western States Baptist Convention in 1973. She also received special recognition for her help and service with the Washington School’s lunch program and was recognized by Thomas B. Doherty, Superintendent of Schools in District 11, for her “”thoughtfulness in helping our schools and our pupils.””
Mama Susie touched many lives with her dedicated work in our state and local communities.
Generously Submitted by Brianne Smith, Great-Granddaughter.