Obituary: John L “Jack” Perkins
March 8, 1927 – February 16, 2021
At the age of 93, Jack Perkins passed away at his home in the arms of his beloved wife Marit. Although his mobility had somewhat declined during his last few months, Jack continued to ski, swim, backpack in the Rockies with Marit and their dogs, and play golf with his buddies into his 90’s, as ever the athlete from his early years.
Jack was born and raised in Racine, Wisconsin. When his parents moved to Milwaukee during his senior year of high school, Jack stayed behind, living at the YMCA to remain as captain of his high school football team and to continue his running track, boxing, swimming, fly fishing and hunting. In his spare time, he worked hauling 100lb. ice blocks to earn spending money and for the purchase of his beloved Model T.
Jack joined the Army at age 19. He initially taught swimming to older fellow soldiers heading overseas. He was later deployed to Germany where he served as squad leader and ran a radio relay station. Upon discharge, he returned to Wisconsin, attending and graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
Jack’s lifelong love of fishing led him to Oconomowoc, Wisconsin where he became a sales representative for a fishing line business. In the late 1950s he formed the Perkins Company—an independent fishing and golf equipment manufacturer’s rep agency. Although an avid participant in both of those sports, Jack took the suggestion of a client to pursue sales and distribution in the up-and-coming ski business. That pursuit led to one of the most successful careers ever known in the ski industry.
Throughout that decades long career, Jack turned the Perkins Company into one of the largest Ski rep groups in the business, with salesman and their supporting staff, up to then, unknown in the industry. With its centralized US location, the Perkins company evolved into the US distribution center for his brands, shipping products all over North America.
Jack’s passion for the sport of skiing soon surpassed all others. Having been introduced to the mountain that later became the Steamboat Ski Resort, Jack went all-in on Steamboat Springs. He purchased land for his first home on what is now Burgess Creek road, before the first ski run was ever cut. Many in the ski manufacturing industry came to know Steamboat through the hospitality of Jack and his wife Marit, the love of his life whom he met and married when he was 44. Their second home located just off Right Of Way, served as a respite, with a warm fire and an open bar every afternoon for those wanting to stop by for a drink on their final run of the day. It was during those years that Jack and Marit had virtually all of the Steamboat Ski Corp personnel from president to lift operators wearing Roffe, Demetre and Smiley ski clothing—including the Mountain Hostesses, outfitted in red stretch jumpsuits and cowboy hats. As Jack would often say, “Those were the days!”
Given Jack’s love of all things athletic, he was a fortunate man whose avocation was also his vocation. Jack was the epitome of combining work with play and living life to the fullest, especially after Marit joined him in his lifelong quests. Jack will be remembered and truly missed by all lucky enough to be his friend.
Memorial donations may be directed to SSWSC and Ducks Unlimited as he was a significant contributor to both.
A Celebration of Life will be postponed until COVID gathering restrictions are lifted.
Arrangements in the care of Yampa Valley Funeral Home.
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