Harriet Sacks Perlis

Harriet Sacks Perlis, 94, of Lancaster, PA, died November 5, 2020, with her granddaughter Jennifer “Sweetheart” Perlis by her side. She was born in Boston, MA, on February 4, 1926. Affectionately known as “Hesh” to her birth family, she was the daughter of the late Etta and Benjamin Sacks, younger sister of the late Miriam Stafford, and wife of the late Irwin B. Perlis. She was the mother of John “Sonny boy” Perlis, the late Sarah Elizabeth “Beth-Meffer” Perlis, Robert Perlis and David “be a good boy” Perlis and a grandmother lovingly known as Baba to her “darling” Deaf granddaughter Jennifer and her grandsons Bobby, Benjamin and Nathan.

Harriet graduated in 1943 from Dorchester High School for Girls in Boston. Her senior quote was, “Nothing is impossible to a willing heart and creative hands.” She earned her Art History degree from Millersville College in 1974 and this was a source of great pride for her. Her career included secretarial work, running the local section 8 housing program, the Office of Aging and real estate before her retirement.

From early childhood and throughout her life, Harriet maintained a collection of Alice In Wonderland books that reflected her lifelong sense of curiosity and wonder. To satiate her quest for knowledge, she was a voracious reader and a political news aficionado, a lifelong member of the Democratic party and a proud Jew. She loved spending time with her family, volunteering for Saturday Hebrew school, the Lancaster Public Library, Planned Parenthood, NOW (National Organization for Women) and many other worthwhile organizations. She enjoyed classical music, fine arts museums, ornithology, poetry, learning and using American Sign Language, and watching PBS and British TV programs. She was also her granddaughter Jennifer’s best friend and her dearest of hearts. She will be deeply missed. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to the American Civil Liberties Union or to any animal shelter.

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  • Harriet was a lovely woman. We knew her through Shaarai Shomayim. She was always a joy to talk to. She had a wonderful, positive & upbeat personality! My husband sang with her in the choir. He considered her a good friend in the choir and enjoyed conversing with her. Our sincere condolences for your loss.

  • Please accept my condolences on the death of Harriet. I will miss her visits to my office (and in later years by telephone) where we would discuss and solve all the world’s problems. I know I will miss those chats.

  • Though I hadn’t seen Harriet in many years, I was fortunate to meet her and share her love of the Pre-Raphaelites. Keith Grebinger, of Grebinger Gallery in Neffsville, introduced us and we took a few trips to the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington together. She was a thoughtful presence. My condolences to the family and friends who will miss her.

  • I knew Harriet from her time living at Brighton. She was such a lovely, fun person. I can hear her laugh. I am so sorry for the loss of your mother and grandmother. She will be missed. She was a great lady. Sincerely, Karolyn Lefchik

  • Beautifully written by none other than the best. I remember her and your mom growing up. Both made memorable moments in my lifetime. Will never forget them and you. I give you and your family my deepest condolences. I know it hurts but I’ve learn in my life that time does heal. The pain never goes away but it becomes tolerable. Just know that I’m here if you wanna talk. Love you sis.

  • I knew Harriet through the ACLU when I was chair of the county chapter, and also because we were in an Etcetera night course at F&M in 1989 on Advanced Creative Writing. She was not only an excellent writer but she brought so much wisdom and sensitivity to the class, it was a pleasure to be with her. It was a challenge to critique people’s work without hurting their feelings but she always found the right words. I was just in touch with her teacher the other day and he was asking about her; he enjoyed knowing her as much as I did. She was a very impressive and compassionate woman and the world is diminished because she is no longer in it.

  • Truly sorry, Jennifer, for the loss of your beloved grandmother. I always enjoyed her company, her wisdom, and sense of humor. You and your family are in my thoughts!
    Much love
    Karen Gabriel

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