Passing of Charles Perkins, Former Freedom First CEO

January 11, 2016

It is with great sadness we relay to our membership the passing of Charles Perkins, long-time CEO of the Credit Union. Charles passed away on Wednesday, January 6, 2016, at Lewis-Gale Hospital in Salem, VA.

Charles was born in Wyborg, KY, in 1935 and lived there and in West Virginia as a child. After spending several years in the Air Force in Morocco, he returned to the States and lived in Virginia and Michigan. He spent his career managing credit unions and moved to Roanoke from Fredericksburg, VA to be the CEO of the GE Employees Federal Credit Union, the credit union that grew and became known as Freedom First. Many of you knew Charles, but for those of you who didn’t have that pleasure he was a man of remarkable ingenuity and dogged tenacity. If it weren’t for him, the Credit Union would not be here today. After retiring in 2000, he enjoyed his life on Windy Gap Mountain gardening, bird watching, and appreciating the view of the Valley.

A Funeral Mass of the Resurrection will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, January 12, 2016, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Salem with Father Remi Sojka officiating. The visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, January 11, 2016, at Oakey's Roanoke Chapel. Interment will be held at St. Andrew's Diocesan Cemetery in Roanoke. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in his name to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, 314 Turner Street, Salem, VA 24153 or to a charity of your choice. Online condolences may be expressed to the family at

Freedom First will continue the Charles Perkins Scholarships to honor the man who has done so much for so many.