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 As a teacher, Brenda Perryman inspired her students to be the best they could be and she counted broadcast journalists and a well-known Hollywood director among those pupils she pushed toward successful careers.

After retirement from a long teaching career, Perryman hosted a television talk show that explored various local and national issues.

Perryman also was a poet and playwright who offered up daily affirmations that were popular with many of her Facebook followers, friends and family members.

Her death Sunday at age 71 from complications of COVID-19 brought an outpouring of sorrow from friends and family, but also accolades for her contributions.

"When is this nightmare going to end?" said her daughter Heather Perryman-Tanks.

What began as incessant coughing put Perryman in the hospital, where she was on a ventilator for a week before she died, said her daughter.

Perryman-Tanks said her mother inspired and motivated students and others during her multi-faceted career as an educator in the Highland Park and Southfield Public schools. 

"She motivated so many people to do better for themselves," said Perryman-Tanks. "Her students are doing things that they probably wouldn't have done if they hadn't had her as a teacher."

Perryman taught for Highland Park Public Schools from 1971-88 and for Southfield Public Schools from 1988-2010, said Perryman-Tanks. Perryman, an Oak Park resident, was a drama teacher and a head of Southfield Public Schools' Fine Arts Department, said her daughter.

"There were students in Southfield whose parents she had taught in Highland Park," said Perryman-Tanks. "She's a staple in Southfield."

Public relations executive Pam Perry said Perryman was the "ultimate creative artist" and "free spirit" who was always willing to give authors a platform on her show.

"She always welcomed them because she was an author too and wanted to always support other authors and creatives," said Perry. "I booked many authors on her show — dozens."

Perryman was "the cheerleader for all authors trying to make a difference in the world," Perry said. "She made her dent in the universe."

A longtime host on WHPR-TV 33, Perryman was also an acting coach, a film theater director, producer, executive producer and playwright at Brenda Perryman's Actors Source Workshop. She was honored by the Michigan Chronicle newspaper with its 2020 Women of Excellence award.

Hollywood director Lawrence Lamont, a former student of Perryman, wrote on his Facebook page: "Ms. Perryman shaped the lives of so many of us and I personally wouldn’t be in my passion if it were not for her. The best drama teacher in the land. The tough-love guru. An angel on Earth that saw so many of us before we saw ourselves. She took the wheel of my high speeding soul at a young age and steered it towards the light."

Lamont added "... Southfield High School needs to change the name of the auditorium to The Brenda Perryman Auditorium immediately.''

Lavonia Perryman Fairfax, a host on 910 AM Superstation who was Brenda Perryman's sister-in-law, said Perryman was an artist and "a fierce educator ... a fearless advocate and community supporter. She had the ability to see the magic in students and she was a shining example of what it means to lead with your heart."

Perryman-Tanks said she and her siblings, RyanPerryman and Courtnee Perryman, will have a public viewing for their mother Tuesday at Kemp Funeral Home in Southfield. She said the family plans a private, invite-only memorial for their mother at a later date due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

"My mother deserved the best of the best," said Perryman-Tanks.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

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