COLUMBIA, Mo. —
Ira Lindley Perkins, age 91, of Columbia, Mo. (formerly of Joplin), died peacefully in his sleep Feb. 8, 2013, at Harry S. Truman Veteran's Memorial Hospital.
He was married to Laura Jean "LJ" Perkins Dec. 13, 1947, at the original St. Mary's Catholic Church in Joplin, Mo.
Ira was born July 29, 1921, in Pittsburg, Kan., and lived most of his life in Joplin. At Joplin High School, he lettered in track and football. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Rolla, with a degree in chemical engineering. He served with the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946 in World War II; his primary assignments were to search and detonate buried bombs and to rebuild housing for war survivors in Europe. After serving honorably, he went to Chicago to pursue a career in singing, but was called to service with the government to help eradicate hoof and mouth disease in cattle in Mexico. He moved to Mexico in 1946, and met his wife, LJ (from New York), who was teaching English at the American High School. They lived in Oaxaca and Mexico City, where their first three children were born. Upon returning to the U.S., Ira was employed by Eagle Picher. In 1958, he joined Rotary International and was quickly noted for his song-leading abilities. He went on to become District 610 Governor and received acclaim for "Hands Across the Border", a program he designed in cooperation with John Neikirk of Union Pacific Railroad to send 87 tons of protein supplements to needy Mexican families, among other Rotary work. A story from the Aug. 26, 1993 edition of the Joplin Globe said, "Perkins has aided in projects that supplied water to 80 homes in Mexico, built a wall around a Mexican school to reduce vandalism and dug holes to plant 1,200 trees within his four-state district."
Ira was owner and president of Moore's Mfg in Joplin, for 25 years, retiring to continue full-time his favorite pursuits of singing, golf and tennis. He became a "snowbird" with LJ, dividing their time between their solar home at Briarbrook Country Club and Weslaco, Texas.
He never stopped smiling. He never stopped singing.
Ira is survived by his loving wife, Laura Jean; and three children, Paul Ira Perkins, Florianopolis, Brazil, Winston Murray Perkins, Joplin, and Laura Lyn Perkins, Glen Carbon, Ill. Other survivors include Paul's children: Caroline, Paris and Tiffany; Winston's children: Stacey and husband, Paul Rock and their children, Emily, Nathan and Claire; Jessica and husband, Todd Marcus and their children, Lincoln, Welles and Olive; and Katie and husband, Chris Stewart and their son, George; and Laura's children: Laura Kristina Cottone and Chris and wife, Oksana Kirina Cottone and their children, Angelina and Alexander. Ira is preceded in death by daughter, Terry Perkins and her child, Baby Hailey; and parents, Terese Barthe and Lindley Murray Perkins.
In the Perkins tradition, there will be more than one memorial service. There was a Mass Feb. 9, a service Feb. 16, at Bethel Ridge, where Ira lived with LJ in Columbia, and there will be an additional service for Ira and other vets at the Truman VA Hospital in the coming month.
In lieu of flowers, the family ask that friends gather and sing a song. Donations may be made to Department of Veteran's Affairs, Truman VA Hospital in Columbia.
A memorial Facebook page under Ira Perkins is set up for friends to share their "Ira" memories.
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