If you’ve ever cheered on the men’s basketball team at Twohig, you may have been rooting alongside Barbara ’54 and John ’57, ’64G Perroni.
As a Salem State Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, John was a starting point guard and team captain during his years at Salem Teachers College, and he and his wife, Barbara, continue to be two of the team’s biggest fans.
“I often think about those times. They were really good years,” John recalls.
The Perroni’s love story began at Salem High School, with the junior prom being their first official date. From there, they both found their way to Salem State and got married on June 26, 1954, two weeks after Barbara’s graduation.
John fulfilled a military service obligation during the Korean War, serving in Darmstadt, Germany for two years, and returned to campus in 1956 to complete his teaching degree and resume his role on the basketball team, officially graduating in the spring of 1957.
Both Barbara and John spent their careers inside classroom walls as elementary and junior high teachers. Barbara notes, “I taught John Keenan when he was in the third grade at Bates Elementary School,” further highlighting the Perroni’s longstanding connection to Salem State and the Salem community.
This year, they’ll celebrate 69 years of marriage. They boast about their six children, 11 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, with their immediate circle growing to about 35 people.
The secret to a seven-decade long marriage? John jokes, “never interfere with hair day.” Barbara claps back saying, “You have to have patience.”
The two are in sync, completing each other’s sentences and filling in the blanks of stories from days gone by, and there is obvious admiration and respect between them as they quip back and forth.
And after all these years, the two continue to be deeply rooted in the Salem State community and are thankful for the role it continues to play in their love story—a story that eclipses roses and chocolate this Valentine’s Day.