Friday, May 4, 2012

The Architects: William L. Perkins

William L. "Sonny" Perkins, a Missouri native who practiced his professions (and there were at least three of them) here from 1917 until his death in 1957, more perhaps than any other individual, shaped the the way Chariton at its best looks and functions. Architect, civil engineer and surveyor, he was by surviving accounts a kind man --- but a determined one, with a tough hide, as those who lead projects that sometimes are controversial tend to be.

Physically, he was short and rather stout --- something of a contrast to his tall and gracious wife, Jessie May, who survived him by 35 years, dying in California during 1992 at age 103.

The engraving of Perkins is from the Lucas County Historical Society collection. The story about his death, which contains a good deal of information about his career, and his obituary were collected some years ago by Melody Wilson and may be found with other related items in a "Perkins" binder in the Lucas County Genealogical Society library.

The Chariton Leader, Aug. 13, 1957

WilliamL. Perkins, 70, prominent Chariton architect and engineer, died Monday morning at Yocom hospital following a heart attack suffered Friday. A long-time resident of the community, Mr. Perkins had returned earlier in the week from a vacation with his wife when he suffered the attack.

Services are now being arranged by the Beardsley Funeral home. Rites are pending the arrival of a son, Lt. William L., USN, who is stationed in Okinawa island. Also surviving are his wife, a sister, Mrs. W.E. Merrihew of Nevada, Mo., and a brother, Albert, of Mobile, Ala.

Through his many years as city enginer, practically all civic improvements completed since his arrival in Chariton were made under his direction and supervision. He served as city engineer and has held posts on the airport commission and other local appointive offices.

As engineer and architect, he supervised construction and planning for East (now Yocom) Park, the city hall, Masonic Temple, Ritz Theater, Yocom Hospital, the Chariton Newspapers building, (the Hotel Charitone), steet improvements, airport costruction, water department details including the physical improvements at city reservoirs such as spillways and pumping stations.

Secretary of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, Mr. Perkins approved the courses of training in colleges and universities offering architecture and approved examinations by state boards and certified architects for work in various states. He also maintained a permanent registry of architects in Iowa, and served as secretary of the Iowa Board of Architectural Examiners.

The municipal airport was one of his great interests and in this instance he turned over engineering fees received from the federal government to the airport fund, giving his services without renumeration.

Mr. Perkins was frequently the center of controversy as his position inevitably involved him in many projects of a controversial nature. He was seldom concerned, friends testify, feeling such matters were the "price of progress."

"Few individuals have so left their imprint on Chariton or are likely to do so in the future as Mr. Perkins," close friends commented following his death. "He was proud of his service to the community."

Distinguished in state as well as local Masonic circles, he held numerous high positions. His illustrious Masonic career included serving as Grand Master of Iowa, 1945 and 1946; Past Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Iowa and Chapter 22 of Chariton; Past Grand Treasurer of Grand Commandery of Iowa; Past Grand Master of the Chariton Blue Lodge; past secretary of York Rites Bodies of Iowa, the Commandery and Blue Lodge; a member of the Scottish Rites or Consistory; past secretary of the A.F.&A.M. No. 22 of Chariton; a member of the honorary Red Cross of Constantine and a member of the Shrine as well as the Council and Commandery. He was a chief organizer of Council No. 42 of  Chariton and was a 32nd degree Mason.

Chariton Patriot, Aug. 22, 1957

William Lee Perkins was born Sept. 1, 1886, near Ridgeway in Harrison county, Mo., to Gabriel Frank and Margaret Henry Perkins. He passed away at the Yocom hospital Aug. 12, 1957, following a heart attack a few days earlier. His childhood and early manhood were spent in Ridgeway, where he was educated in the public schools.

On Sept. 1, 1908, he married Jessie May Yeater in Ridgeway, and in April, 1917, they moved to Chariton where he engaged in the practice of architecture, engineering and surveying.

He was a member of the First Methodist church, and for many years was very active in its affairs. He also belonged to Chariton Lodge No. 63, A.F.&A.M., and was a Past Master and served as secretary for many years, was Past Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Iowa and Past High Priest of Chapter No. 22 of Chariton, was Past Emminent Commander of the Knights Templar, and held many other offices, including that of Grand Master of Masons in Iowa in 1945 and 1946.

He belonged to the American Institute of Architects, Iowa State Society of Engineers, the National Society of Engineering Examiners, was secretary of the Iowa State Board of Architectural examiners and secretary of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and belonged to many other professional architectural and engineering organizations.

He is survived by his wife, his son and wife, William and Jean; brother, Albert, of Mobile, Ala., sister, Mrs. Josie Merrihew of Nevada, Mo., and two grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Masonic Temple in Chariton. The Rev. Paul Hicks of Glenwood, assisted by the Rev Lester Hall, officiated. Masonic services were in charge of Edwin L. Lunde, Grand Master of Iowa from Sioux City. Interment was at Ridgeway, Mo. Beardsley Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

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