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Charlotte Perry finds keeping busy is key to happy retirement

Charlotte Perry was born and raised in North Platte, Neb., and received her education at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She attended Denver University, where she received an M.A. in library science. For almost 40 years, she has worked with children, instilling in them “the love of reading.”

Perry worked in many library positions before being hired for her dream job as elementary school librarian for the Chula Vista School District. Since retirement, she has continued to follow the Chi Omega motto: I lead, I serve, I give. She has become a full-time volunteer, giving back to the community in various activities; her favorite is working with children.

Perry volunteers at the Riford Library’s preschool story time and leads children’s tours for the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation. She performs as Ida Bailey in the Gaslamp Players productions.

Perry is a trustee of Mt. Soledad Memorial Association and chairwoman of the speaker’s bureau. She is active in the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International for “Key” women educators, the Daughters of the American Revolution and the University of Nebraska Alumni, “etc. etc.,” she said. “I have more enthusiasm and ideas than I have time for.”

What brought you to La Jolla?

I followed a sailor to San Diego. While living in Pacific Beach in 1977 (and teaching in Chula Vista), a new development called Windemere opened. I had the opportunity to become a first-time homeowner, so I moved to La Jolla and have made it my home ever since. I’ve found paradise.

What makes this town special to you?

The people of La Jolla are special. I have the opportunity to live in a big city with a small-town community feel.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

I would add a local community theater. It would be a venue for aspiring actors and actresses in which to perfect their craft, and would also provide entertainment for the town’s people.

Who or what inspires you?

My mother has been a great inspiration, along with my Midwestern sense of values, community, patriotism and work ethic. I am becoming more like my mother every day in my effort to give back to the community.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

I would invite Dr. Seuss and seven of my best women friends who are my support group. My friends are the family I have chosen for myself.

Tell us about what you are currently reading.

I read a lot of children’s books to share at preschool story time at the Riford Library. I also review lots of children’s books for the Light One Little Candle Foundation that gives books to cancer patients receiving treatment at Moores Cancer Center.

On an adult level, I am reading “Lark and Termite,” a novel by the highly acclaimed author Jayne Anne Phillips. The story is set during the 1950s in West Virginia and Korea, and features two children — Lark and Termite.

What is your most-prized possession?

I love my two fat cats, Andre and Korbe. They give me lots of unconditional love and total support. Whenever I sit down, I have a cat in my lap.

What do you do for fun?

I really enjoy swimming laps in my condo pool and, of course, that helps me keep healthy. I like socializing with my friends, traveling throughout the United States and visiting the National Parks. I also enjoy seeing the world from a cruise ship.

I have lots of fun sharing the history of San Diego through programs presented by the Gaslamp Players and my Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation kids’ tours of the William Heath Davis House. These show students what life was like between 1850 and 1920.

Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

For more than 40 years, I have worked with children fostering their love of reading through my work as a children’s librarian. I am proud of my commitment to volunteerism. I cherish the friendships I have made from elementary school to the new friends I’ve made in Club Altura, a La Jolla friendship club, and in other organizations I’ve joined since retirement.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Don’t worry, be happy, and if that doesn’t work, keep busy! Live well. Laugh often. Love always!