"If I wanted to see my husband, I had to go up to the [recreation] field," Pat, now 81, said with a laugh. "I started when my kids were 4 and 5 years old."
For the vast majority of Pat and Jerry Soukup's 60-year marriage, the couple has devoted much of their time to volunteer work. Notably, Jerry, 83, has served more than 20 years as president of the rec council.
Find a transcript of Jerry's acceptance speech here.
Perry Hall was a different community when the Soukups first arrived in 1956.
The closest shoppng centers were in Overlea and the Towson neighborhood of Hillendale. Berg's Dairy, the present location of Weis Markets and the Seven Courts neighborhood, "still had cows in the field," Jerry said. Perry Hall Middle and Perry Hall High did not yet exist.
Jerry, an aerospace engineer with Martin Marietta Corporation, immediately became involved with the Perry Hall Optimist club and started helping out with rec council football.
"It was a good life." Jerry said. "You got to know a lot of people and you felt useful."
"It was a family. When we moved here, there were very few people and it was family—that's what people did back then," Pat added.
Community involvement was always a priority for Jerry, occasionally to his wife's chagrin.
"I didn't do too much around the house," he said.
During his acceptance speech for the citizen of the year award, he joked, "I bought my wife all of the best tools money could buy—she has a power drill, saber saw, whatever."
In 1975, Jerry began working for the Baltimore County Bureau of Engineering & Construction. At the time, the Soukups were advocating for drastic improvements to Perry Hall's playing fields and rec sports programs. While Jerry umpired baseball games, Pat sold hot dogs.
The community's population rapidly expanded with new homes, schools and shopping centers. Through cycles of economic booms and busts, growth continued into the 21st century.
Jerry became president of the rec council in 1988 and, over the next 20 years, participated in the construction of several new community parks, as well as new partnerships and programs.
"When you have growth, you get some more problems," Jerry said. "It's still a damn good neighborhood, but it's grown, my goodness."
In 2008, he was recognized as a top volunteer by the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association.
"When you can keep the youth of a community active, it only enhances the community—that's what Jerry and Pat have given to this community," said Bill Paulshock, an active longtime rec council member and owner of Bill's Seafood. "You can talk to anyone in Perry Hall—Jerry and Pat are something special."
Dennis M. Robinson, Jr., president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association called the impact of the Soukups' service "limitless."
"Every child who came through the program over the last half-a-century has benefited from their hard work," Robinson said while presenting the 2011 Perry Hall Citizens of the Year award. "The Perry Hall community is undoubtedly a better place because of Jerry and Pat Soukup."
How have Jerry and Pat Soukup or the Perry Hall Recreation Council impacted your life? Tell us in the comments.