Professor Donald Shoup of the Department of Urban Planning shared these memories of Mimi Perloff during "MimiFest," the celebration of her 90th birthday celebration in November of 2004.
It’s an honor to wish Mimi Perloff a Happy Ninetieth Birthday from the urban planners. Despite these 90 birthdays, Mimi stays perpetually young. She’s the first mother who is younger than her own children.
You wouldn’t know it from looking at me, but Mimi helps all the urban planners stay young, at least in our outlooks. Mimi always gives us wise advice, she always wants to know about everything we are doing, and she always wants us to do more.
As the rest of us grow older, we worry because we’ve heard that once you get over the hill, you pick up speed. Well, Mimi defies both age and gravity because she’s been picking up speed while she’s still going uphill. She’s our role model of how to stay young as we grow older. More than that, she’s the best role model for people of any age. Mimi has broken through the age barrier, and she has the right stuff.
Mimi almost invented the full, frontal hug, or at least she made it popular among everybody I know. Mimi has hugged more urban planners than anyone else ever has or ever will. Mimi has hugged me more often than anybody else except perhaps my own mother and my wife.
Everyone who knows Mimi knows that she has strong political views, and she was not pleased with the results on Tuesday. I heard her agree with a fellow Democrat who said now that the slavery issue has been solved, she would be happy to see the South secede and became a separate country.
Mimi is political, but not partisan. She’s a great friend to everybody, she’s the most positive person I’ve ever met, and although she loves to hear gossip she never repeats anything bad about anybody. It’s never an equal exchange when you gossip with Mimi. It’s the only activity in which she receives more than she gives.
I learned about Mimi’s youthful political activism when I read her oral history recorded in 1991. The title the UCLA Library gave to her history is “You can have it all.” Well, 13 years later, Mimi has shown that you can keep on having it all, and doing it all. In her history, Mimi said, “I only do things I want to do, and I do them with great commitment.” We will always be grateful to Mimi Perloff not only for her great commitment and friendship, but also for the fine example she has set for how we should live our own lives. Mimi, planners everywhere wish you a Happy Birthday.