June Perry, who served alongside her son and former Walsall Mayor Garry in 2011, lost her battle with breast cancer on May 27 at the age of 74.
Councillor Garry Perry, who is the current deputy leader of the authority, described his mother as hugely popular and an irreplaceable character, especially in Pelsall where she was born and bred.
He added her passing was the second tragedy to his his family in less than 18 months following the death of his brother Jason in February last year – a loss she never got over.
She worked as a housekeeper at Walsall Manor Hospital for 33 years before retiring in 2016. Prior to that, she worked as a chain-maker at Martin and Son in Walsall before raising her five children.
After retirement the grandmother of five suffered a triple heart bypass but recovered to take on a part time cleaning job at Pelsall Community Centre as well as carrying out voluntary work in the community.
And Councillor Perry said her two year stint, first as Deputy Mayoress and then as Mayoress in 2011, is still fondly remembered by people she met as part of the role.
He said: “I lost my brother Jason last February to Covid, aged 46, and mom really never did get over that. Mothers never expect their children to go before them.
“By the time it came to mom getting her diagnosis, she was just battle worn by then. She lost her son and then this happened and she was never in the fight really if I’m honest.
“But when I have gone out people have talked about mom. They say, ‘she was our favourite mayoress’.
“A lot of people warmed to mom in our year because she was so down to earth. She was very popular.
“We were quite a unique set up as Mayor and Mayoress, both of us working in the NHS carrying out that role. The NHS was really supportive of us to enable us to do that.
“You talk about Walsall people being ‘salt of the earth’ and that was my mom. She was one of those individuals, family first, no-nonsense style.
“She had an ordinary working class background, her dad was a Pelsall miner and her mom was born in Pelsall. I carried on the Pelsall legacy but she was a Pelsall girl. Lived in Walsall all her life.
“She was selfless and cared deeply about people, particularly children. She had a penchant for children and their welfare was always her main concern.
“That’s why we chose charities when we were in office associated with children because mom really cared compassionately about the welfare of them.
“When she was poorly when she was in hospital and she heard a child crying, all she kept saying was ‘why is that child crying? What’s the matter? Find out what’s wrong?’ Seeing news about children being abused really upset her.”
Mrs Perry helped her son during his campaign to first get elected as a Pelsall member in 1998 and he credited her for his success due to her popularity in the village.
Councillor Perry said: “Everyone says their mom’s the best but my mom just can’t be replicated. She was such a character, always putting other people’s welfare first.
“We’ve had the double tragedy of losing a brother and a mom in such a short space of time. But despite this, mom would still want us out there carrying on and our heads held up high.
“The person never dies as long as their memory lives on and you talk about them as much as possible. That’s all we’ve done these last few weeks.
“She did a huge amount of voluntary work. She always believed in helping others. She was wonderful. It’s a big loss for us but big loss to our communities as well.”
Current Mayor of Walsall Rose Martin said: “June was a wonderful mayoress. I’d go so far to say one of the best – she really took to the role, and her down to earth style and ability to engage with people of all backgrounds was brilliant.
“I know she will be sorely missed by her family and friends and all those who knew her.”
Sue Need, former director nursing at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, added: “June was a truly remarkable woman who dedicated her time at work to making things better and brighter for all.
“She held the values that the NHS hold dear of compassion, honesty, and openness with a huge dose of humour sprinkled across them.
“She was fierce in her pursuit of ensuring the right thing was done and was not afraid to make sure those who needed to know knew! In my 40 years of NHS service June is one of the special ones I hold close to my heart and memories.”
Her funeral will take place at St Michaels, Pelsall, on June 17 at 11am.
Rev Alison Morris said: “June was a pillar of the local community and across the Borough of Walsall.
“Serving as Mayoress of Walsall in 2011 her impact and presence was highly significant in all areas of life.
“She was a lovely lady who was honest, dependant and reliable. Her kindness, and helpfulness was truly remarkable and appreciated by all.”