Profile: Ocie Perry
I went through a whole lot of changes about my life. I went through a whole lot of guilt about feeling those ideas [loving women], and I ran from it for a long time. But I think the best way I can put this … is to say it took me a long time to realize that there’s nothing wrong with what I feel. There’s nothing wrong with loving a woman.
Subject: Ocie Perry
Date of Birth: July 1926
Place of Birth: Arkansas
Age at Interview: 77
Date of Interview: December 2003
Interviewer: Arden Eversmeyer
Place of Interview: Mesa, Arizona
Transcriber: Lorna Ellis
Length of Transcript: original, 32 pages; OCRed text, 35 pages; ~ 16,900 words
Contract Dated: 12/19/2003
Support documents: 40 pages; copies of photos, certificates, programs, vitae
Born and raised in a rural area of Arkansas, Ocie’s first job was working as a personal bath attendant at the nearby Hot Springs. Her determination helped Ocie succeed in nursing school despite being the only woman of color in a school where some of the nuns were not very accepting. She also served in the Army Nurse Corps. Ocie had several successful careers; first nursing in VA hospital settings and later as head nurse within the US Postal Service. During both careers, Ocie was very active in the union, integrally involved in unionizing the nurses within the Post Office. Outside of her traditional careers, Ocie devoted much of her free time to her love of jazz music, hosting first a radio program and, later, a television show. She was also a single mother, adopting a child when she was 41.