Lt. Col. (Ret.) Joseph “Joe” Perkins was born in St. James, Missouri to Lawrence “Tick” and Lucille Perkins on November 22, 1938 and passed away on March 25, 2019 at the age of 80 years, 4 months and 3 days.
Joe received his BS and MS degrees in Civil Engineering from Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy in Rolla, Missouri. He was commissioned in the US Army. During his first tour in Vietnam he lived with the Mountainards as an advisor to the South Vietnamese Army. During his second tour in Vietnam he was the operations officer for a combat engineer battalion that built roads in the booby-trapped and sniper-filled Vietnamese countryside. He supervised construction of an anti-aircraft missile site in Korea; roads and bridges in the Dominican Republic; an anti-ballistic missile system in North Dakota; perimeter anti-ballistic sites in remote parts of Alaska; and boat harbors and roads throughout Alaska. He supervised the construction of the challenging rehabs of the Snettisham Hydroelectric Project in Southeast Alaska and the Chena Flood Control Project in Fairbanks. Already, he was leaving his imprint on the face of Alaska’s infrastructure.
In Joe’s final years in the Army he helped the US Department Energy construct nuclear waste and energy storage facilities, including the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Louisiana. Back with the Army Corps of Engineers, he supervised the highly complex construction of King Khalid City in Saudi Arabia. He retired a Lieutenant Colonel working as Deputy Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District. During his Army career, he received two Legion of Merit awards, two Bronze Stars, and numerous other meritorious service medals.
Joe joined the Alaska Power Authority and managed an aggressive design and construction program to meet those needs, including the completion of several hydroelectric projects that currently provide about 20% of Alaska’s low-cost energy. He was Vice President and President of Frank Moolin and Associates where he led design and construction of numerous Alaska infrastructure projects funded with pipeline royalties.
When the Alaska economy tanked in the late 1980s Joe joined Moolin’s parent company, Ebasco, as its South American vice president where he completed the construction of the US embassy in Santiago, Chile and led business development efforts in South America.
It was during this time that Governor Tony Knowles asked Joe to return to Alaska as the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation. He elevated Alaska DOT to a national and international level when he served as President of the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Vice-President of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and as one of two US delegates to the World Road Association. He also served on the Alaska Railroad Board of Directors and the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority Board of Directors for eight years.
After Joe retired from Alaska DOT in 2002, he lived in Juneau but traveled the world helping developing countries plan their fledgling transportation infrastructure systems. He helped identify transportation corridors in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. He worked with the President of Sao Tome to reroute transportation corridors to enhance economic development.
He loved fly fishing with his friends. He enjoyed travelling the world with his wife, Laurie. He read and studied history voraciously and often said that he would have loved to have been a history professor. He championed Juneau football and served on the JYFL Board of Directors for several years. One of his proudest days was the day he was inducted as a Distinguished Alumnus at his alma mater.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Lawrence and Lucille Perkins.
Heis survived by his wife, Laurie Prentice Perkins; children, Lindsay Rico (Joseph) of Edmond, Oklahoma, Jack Perkins (Shawnee) of Seattle, Washington, Joseph Perkins (Josie) of Maui, Hawaii and Tom Perkins (Lisa) of Fort Worth, Texas; three grandchildren, Grant Rico, Claire Perkins and Chase Perkins; brothers, John (Robbie) Perkins of Rolla, Missouri and Paul (Linda) Perkins of Steelville Missouri; other relatives and friends.
Visitation was held from 3-8 on Saturday, March 30, 2019 at the Britton-Bennett Funeral Home in Steelville, Missouri. Masonic services were held at 7 p.m.
Memorial funeral service was held at 1 p.m. on March 31, 2019 at the Steelville Presbyterian Church in Steelville, Missouri with Rev. Wendy Downing and Rev. Bobby Weber officiating.
The prelude of “Moonlight Sonata” was played by pianist, Karin West. Music of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “His Eye is On the Sparrow” was sung by Rev. Bobby Weber and Bill Weber. Great memories were shared by his brother, John Perkins and a good friend, Wilson Hughes. The Recessional of “Amazing Grace” was played on bag pipes by Rob Bowness.
Casket bearers were Joe Perkins, Jr., Jack Perkins, Tom Perkins, Joe Rico, Scott Perkins and Mark Perkins.
Joe will be buried with full military honors in the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC.
Arrangements under the direction of the Britton-Bennett Funeral Home of Steelville, Missouri.