Cerro Gordo County Iowa
Part of the IaGenWeb Project



Obituary - John Heath Perkins

Clear Lake Mirror Reporter
Clear Lake, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Sunday, April 24, 2011

John Heath PERKINS was born Feb. 3, 1912 on a farm on Tony Row, south of Clear Lake, to George E. and Mabel R. (TEDROW) PERKINS.

He lived his entire life in Clear Lake and at 99 years was still living independently at home. He died Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011, at Oakwood Care Center, Clear Lake, after a month of care following a broken hip.

John graduated from Clear Lake High School in 1928 at the age of 16. He participated in athletics, school plays, and debate. He attended Iowa State College, where as a freshman reporter for the school newspaper, he had the opportunity to meet and interview George Washington CARVER, the first black man to graduate from Iowa State, and Henry WALLACE, who was then U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

He retained his love of writing for the rest of his life. At an advanced age, he enrolled in writing courses at the University of Iowa and North Iowa Community College. For two years, he authored a weekly column in the Mason City Globe Gazette

In 1997, John and Marlus published the book "Of Frogs and Friends." which originated from his columns.

He was married to Marlus Irene LAMBERT, his high school sweetheart, on May 2, 1934, in the First Congregational Church, Clear Lake, by the Rev. W. B. MILNE.

Shortly after marriage, John and Marlus purchased the PERKINS Dairy from John's parents and moved it from the farm to 114 North 4th Street in Clear Lake. They operated it as a team, except during WWII when Marlus became one of the first women in Clear Lake to manage a business. PERKINS Dairy introduced pasteurized and homogenized milk to the Clear Lake community.

John enlisted in the Air Force in 1942 and was discharged in 1944, having earned a commercial pilot's license with an instrument rating. After selling the dairy in 1946, he managed the All-Veterans' Social Center. He then became corporate secretary for the Imperial Seed Company. At this time he owned his own airplane, which he used in business. John and Marlus then established and operated the first garden center in Clear Lake. They ran infomercials, long before that word was coined, on what was then KGLO-TV. PERKINS Garden Center was the first establishment in the area to flock Christmas trees.

This business transitioned to John PERKINS Inc., an erosion control company. He operated the business for about 20 years before retirement, seeding grass and planting trees on roadsides, ditches, and dams to prevent them from washing away. The firm seeded the first project in Iowa that made use of native prairie grasses. John relished the problem-solving that was required for his work. His company was the first in Iowa to seed highways via helicopter, and on one water-side job, he spread seed from a rowboat.

Immediately after returning from the service, John was elected president of the Chamber of Commerce. He was serving in that office when the decision was made by the Chamber to purchase the golf course as a memorial to all veterans. He also served two terms on the Clear Lake City Council, was on the Clear Lake School Board, and was president of the Lions Club. In 1992, the Clear Lake Rotary Club chose John "Citizen of the Year." That same year, he was selected as the Grand Marshall of the 4th of July Parade.

As a long-time member of the First Congregational Church of Clear Lake, he served as moderator, member of the Board of Trustees, chairman of the Board of Deacons, and Sunday school teacher. He also served on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches.

John was a 50-year member of Verity Lodge 250, AFAM of Clear Lake, where he once served as Master of The Lodge. He was a member of Abu Bekr Temple and Scottish Rite of Sioux City. He was also Past Patron of Park Chapter No. 35 OES in Clear Lake.

After retirement, he and Marlus loved to travel, journeying to Yugoslavia, Spain, and England. They spent a summer in Alaska with their travel trailer and often wintered near Big Bend National Park in Texas. Educational tours took them on a covered wagon ride across the Kansas prairie and to an authentic Native American sweat lodge in South Dakota. As Marlus' eyesight faded, John learned to cook, and he delighted in finding new recipes on the internet. He also enjoyed photography, woodworking, and carving, and he never lost his zest for recounting his memories of Clear Lake history.

John is survived by his daughter, Sandra K. SNIDER of Wichita, Kan.; daughter-in-law, Dr. Jane M. PERKINS of Chicago, Ill.; three grandchildren, Jeff PERKINS and his wife, B. J., of Eden Prairie, Minn., Elizabeth PERKINS-BROWN and her husband, James BROWN, of Boise, Id., Meredith PERKINS of Chicago; and three great-grandchildren, Anthony and Nicolas PERKINS, and Tristyn BROWN.

He was preceded in death by his wife of almost 75 years, Marlus; his son, J. Bruce PERKINS; his parents; brothers, Dowd and Rawlins; and sister, Helen.

A celebration of John's life is scheduled for 11 a.m., Friday, April 29, at First Congregational Church, Clear Lake. The church will be open at 10 a.m. for friends to visit with the family.

~ ~ ~ ~

The Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Sunday, April 24, 2011

John Perkins dies at age 99

CLEAR LAKE Clear Lake historian John H. PERKINS has died at the age of 99.

PERKINS died Sunday at Oakwood Care Center in Clear Lake.

Funeral arrangements are pending at Ward-Van Slyke Colonial Chapel in Clear Lake.

Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2011



  • Return to "P" Obituaries Index Page

  • Return to Obituaries Index Page

  • Return to Cerro Gordo Home Page


    © Copyright 1996-
    Cerro Gordo Co. IAGenWeb Project
    All rights Reserved.