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Jerry, Pat Soukup on Volunteerism in Perry Hall

The couple of more than 60 years were recently honored as the 2011 Perry Hall Citizens of the Year.

 jokes that, as a homemaker in the 1950s, she started volunteering with the to save her marriage.

"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, , 83, has served more than 20 years as president of the rec council.

Both were recently honored for their service as recipients of the  award by the .

Find a transcript of Jerry's acceptance speech .

Perry Hall was a different community when the Soukups first arrived in 1956.

The closest shoppng centers were in and the Towson neighborhood of Hillendale. , the present location of and the neighborhood, "still had cows in the field," Jerry said. and 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 , an active longtime rec council member and owner of . "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.

Paul Amirault February 13, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Actually Jerry has been President since the late 60's.
Marje Lentz February 14, 2012 at 01:16 PM
I have known Jerry and Pat for over thirty years. Jerry & Pat helped me out alot when my son "Buddy" was playing football and baseball in the travel leagues and rec leagues. I volunteered in the concession stand and learned what unconditional love was from them both, as they gave it to all who knows them. Thanks Marje
Al Thompson February 14, 2012 at 03:14 PM
It was both a pleasure and honor to get to know Jerry and Pat. They will be a Perry Hall legend for many years to come. All the best wishes to you, Jerry and Pat, for many years to come.
JACKIE BLUNT February 14, 2012 at 05:39 PM
It is wonderful that this caring couple is getting more attention for all the years of work they have done for the Perry Hall Community. I don't think sports in Perry Hall would ever have developed as it did without them. Our children's lives were improved by their devotion. All the best to you both! You've earned it!

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