Bella Ezetta Beach Perlman, 90, a lifetime resident of Chicago’s South Side, died peacefully at home on Monday, June 7, 2021.
She was born to Samuel Cicero Beach and Eula Hicks Beach on March 12, 1931. She was part of a large, blended family that ultimately included five half-siblings, two brothers, and three foster brothers.
Bella graduated from Phillips High School in 1949. She attended Illinois State Normal for one year before transferring to Kentucky State University, graduating with a degree in Elementary Education in 1954.
Bella returned to Chicago to begin what would become a more than five-decades-long teaching career, during which she inspired thousands of young minds. She taught at both public and private schools, including The Faulkner School and De La Cruz Academy.
On New Year’s Day 1960, she met Noel Perlman and his wife at a party thrown by a mutual friend. Exactly one year later, at the same friend’s party, the recently divorced Mr. Perlman quickly asked Ms. Beach out for a date the following day. Thus began a loving partnership of 60 years. They wed on June 28, 1963, four years before Loving v. Virginia would become the law of the land.
Noel and Bella shared a deep and abiding love for classical music. They were fixtures at the Lyric Opera of Chicago — season ticket holders for more than five decades; founders of the Hyde Park/Kenwood Chapter; volunteers in various capacities. Bella combined her teaching ability with her passion for opera to develop and deliver an Opera In The Classroom program to elementary students all over Chicago.
They were also regular attendees and supporters of Chicago Sinfonietta, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theater and many other local cultural organizations. While continuing to teach full-time, she earned her master’s degree in education from National College of Education (now National Louis University) in 1982 at the age of 51.
Even after her retirement from full-time classroom teaching, well into her seventies she continued to be an eager substitute teacher, willing to answer the phone when a principal called.
Bella is survived by her beloved husband and caregiver Noel Perlman, just short of their 58th wedding anniversary; their son Samuel Perlman and his wife Mariah Goode (Baileys Harbor, WI); two grandsons — Theo Goode and Trey Perlman, who meant more to her than they will ever know. She enjoyed the love and respect from dozens of nieces, nephews and cousins, and countless dear friends and former colleagues.
A Celebration of Life for Bella will be planned for the near future. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Bella Beach Perlman ’54 Education Endowment Fund at Kentucky State University (400 East Main Street, Hume Hall Suite 102, Frankfort, KY 40601), or the Lyric Opera of Chicago (20 North Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606).