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Bigger-than-life adventurer Sherman Kilimanjaro ‘had fun on his way to heaven’

Sherman Kilimanjaro (Courtesy photo)

“If there’s one thing you can say about my brother, it’s that he had a lot of fun on his way to heaven,” said Vivian Jean Wilburn of her brother Sherman Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro died April 28 in Millington. He was 72.

“He was a lover of life and lived it with passion. Sherman was a world traveler and adventurer. Sherman squeezed a number of lifetimes in a life well-lived,” Wilburn said.

Kilimanjaro was born on June 17, 194, to the late Algie and Dora Perkins. The third of five children, he confessed his faith in Christ at an early age and was baptized at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

He graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in the class of 1966. Kilimanjaro earned an associate’s degree from LeMoyne-Owen College, a bachelor’s degree from Philander Smith College in Little Rock and a master’s in business administration from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. He also pursued post-graduate studies at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Kilimanjaro’s work experiences were as colorful as his personality. He was bursar at the University of Memphis Health Center, a professor at Shelby State Community College, and business development officer at Tennessee State University, among other impressive posts.

However, Kilimanjaro had a desire to be an entrepreneur. He started several businesses, but his love for travel led him to start a travel agency, “Great American Cruises.

His business flourished and brought him great personal joy and satisfaction.

Kilimanjaro was said to never have met a stranger and his big, hearty laugh endeared him to friends and loved ones, alike.

He toured more than 60 foreign countries and walked on all seven continents. 

The highlight of his travels took place when he climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa.

Standing at the top of the mountain and looking down on all that God had created, he told his family, he experienced a spiritual awakening that was life-changing. 

When he returned home, Kilimanjaro officially changed his last name from Perkins to Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro became a world-class mountain climber. He climbed Mount Machu Picchu in southern Peru and Mount Denali in Alaska. He attempted a Mount Everest climb in Asia.

Kilimanjaro produced and hosted a number of television and radio shows, including: “Drugs Public Enemy #1” on television, from 1986-97; “Our Neighborhood” on television, from 1987-98.

Many will remember his scathing editorials on radio station WLOK.

Kilimanjaro was a life-time member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. 

He is survived by one daughter, MeLisa Perkins Miller; his sister; a brother, Danny Ray Perkins of Houston, and three grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and a host of other relatives and friends.

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