One of Glendale’s most prominent citizens throughout the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s has died. Dr. Jim Perkins, a former Glendale dentist, a former mayor of Glendale and a past president of many civic organizations in Glendale from the Kiwanis Club to the Chamber of Commerce, and more, died just a few days before his 96th birthday in Pasadena, Ca., on October 10, 2020.
James was born in Casper, Wyoming, the 3rd child and oldest son of Ruth and Jim Perkins. The family later moved to Nebraska where Jim attended grade school and was a graduate of Hemingford High school in Nebraska in 1942. He then followed his sisters out to Los Angeles and attended LACC from 1942-43 before enlisting in the Navy and serving in the Pacific theater during WWII. After the war, Jim moved back to Nebraska and attended Doane College in Crete, Nebraska, and then the University of Colorado before getting the necessary credits to attend USC dental school in 1948. He married Sally Marie Sutherland, his wife of 70 years, in 1950 and anyone who knew them would agree that it was a 70-year fairy tale come true.
Nothing about his childhood on a small family farm in Nebraska during the Dust Bowl and Depression could have foreshadowed the accomplishments and vast footprint that Jim Perkins made while residing in his beloved community of Glendale. Jim Perkins graduated from USC dental school in 1952 and immediately after moved to Glendale, Ca., where he began a 42-year career as a dentist. He bought his home at 1301 Rossmoyne in 1952 and lived there with his family until 2015. During that stretch of time Jim Perkins would become very involved in the YMCA, the AFS, the Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club and the North Glendale Methodist Church on Glenoaks Blvd. He became mayor of Glendale in 1970 after being elected to the City Council in 1966. Jim was a member of the City Council from 1966-1973.
Jim was an avid outdoorsman, fisherman and big-game hunter, and this took him to Africa and Alaska on multiple occasions. He was still fishing in Alaska up until his 90th birthday. Jim and wife Sally were regular travelers, and after his retirement in 1994 he and Sally traveled across the U.S. and Canada for extended trips in their motor home.
Jim was a delegate for Ronald Reagan in the 1976 Republican National Convention in K.C., Missouri. Much of his spare time was often spent at Oakmont Country Club in North Glendale, where he was a member from 1957 until he was no longer able to travel. Jim is known for being very eager to lend his efforts in order to help family and friend alike. He was always willing to get his hands dirty to help someone dig a ditch or plant some trees or weed a garden. Like his contemporary, former President Jimmy Carter, who was born in the same month and the same year, Jim hardly ever slowed down; his hat was always in the ring; he never asked to sit one out. He was the ultimate team player, whether that team was his family, his community, his USC Trojans or his country, Jim could always be found in the front row.
Jim is survived by his wife, Sally; his children, Susan, Bob and Nancy; his brothers-in-law Joe Healy and Scott Roberts; and his daughter-in-law, Michelle. He has 5 grandchildren (Betsy, Jeff, Vance, Weston and Sydney) and two great-grandchildren (Jacob and Evie). His younger brother, Robert, died in 1954 in an air force tragedy in the Philippines at the age of 24. His two older sisters both lived in Los Angeles for their adult lives until their respective passings in the early 2000s.
James bought the property at the corner of Brand Blvd. and Monterey sometime in the 1950s before the 134 Freeway was constructed 1968 that ran through Glendale and into Pasadena. He worked in and owned the building at 720 N. Brand that he later developed into the current high rise that is now the Glendale Federal building. He also co-founded the Central Bank of Glendale in the 1970s on Central Blvd. south of Glenoaks.
Jim Perkins’ love and service to his family and to his community will be forever missed.