Cover photo for Leo Perkins's Obituary
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1917 Leo 2020

Leo Perkins

November 26, 1917 — September 21, 2020

Leo Perkins, 102, of Lampasas passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Monday, September 21, 2020. There will be a come and go visitation from 1:30 to 5:00 p.m. Saturday at Sneed Funeral Chapel for anyone wishing to pay their respects. Graveside Services will be private. A Memorial Service to celebrate Leo's life will be planned at a later date. My name is Leo Ira Perkins. I’ve been around this world 2 months shy of 103 years. I started life on a ranch near Hackberry, Texas, the oldest of five kids to a mom and dad who thought the world of me. After high school in Rock Springs, I worked as a cowboy, once moving 800 head of cattle across the border of Mexico. I hopped a train for New Mexico to work in a copper mine near Lordsburg, quickly realizing that wasn’t for me. Near Valentine in West Texas, I worked for the Conservation Corps and met the cutest little gal from Lometa named Lillian Pearce, and she caught my attention! I enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941. I was stationed in Missouri, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, California and Pyote, Texas. We flew our B-17 from Texas, across Nova Scotia, to Ridgewell Air Field in England. There I flew 14 bombing runs over Germany as a top-turret gunner and flight engineer. My plane was shot down over Rotterdam on August 19, 1943. For the next 22 months, I was a prisoner-of-war in Stalag 17-B near Krems, Austria. I took advantage of my time there learning Spanish and business law. In 1945, I was liberated and married the love of my life. On December 21st of this year, Lillian and I would have been married 75 years. I started college at Sul Ross in Alpine, Texas where Lillian was finishing up her final semester. We moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, continued my education and had our first darling daughter, Carolyn. Before my last semester at New Mexico State University, I had a chance to move with my young family to Mexico where I worked for the Mexican and United States governments inoculating cattle for hoof-and-mouth disease. There we lived in Oaxaca, Puebla, and Teo Tehuacan, briefly returning to San Angelo for the birth of our precious son, Bobby. After 2 years in Mexico, the four of us returned to New Mexico where I finished my degree. Moving to El Paso I started selling for Purina Feed Company in West Texas and New Mexico. Our second darling daughter, Sharon, was born there. I taught agriculture at Ysleta High School, then horticulture at Riverside High School. After school and on weekends, I worked with disabled American veterans often accompanied by my son Bob. Together we built greenhouses and grew orchids. I was in partnership with the North Loop Feed Store and the Jacaranda Nursery. My family and I went to church in Canutillo, New Mexico. I rescued a few dogs, even a pig and a calf that lived in our back yard for a time. When I retired the first time, I moved to Zuni, New Mexico teaching horticulture and building greenhouses on the Zuni Indian Reservation. After Lillian and I retired for good, we moved to Lampasas where I substitute taught and joined the Adamsville Presbyterian Church where Lillian grew up. We played dominos with the folks at the Lampasas and Lometa Baptist Churches, and I met with Lometa and Lampasas Masonic Lodge. I was a Mason for almost 65 years being honored with the Golden Trowel Award. I went on an honor flight with the local VFW to Washington, D.C. We ate breakfast just about every morning at the Country Kitchen where some of our favorite people work and eat. I’ve always appreciated open spaces. I stopped by to see Lillian when she was in college, enticed her to skip her classes and spend the day in Big Bend years, before it became a national park. We traveled there often together, with Nelva and Sam, our kids, grandkids and Kaleb over the subsequent years. I am fascinated by the night sky. I watch the moon rise many evenings. I woke everyone in the family to see lunar eclipses. We watched meteor showers from the roof of our house. If we weren’t together, I would call my kids and tell them to look at the moon or a particular planet. Our family grew with sons-in-law Ken and Russ. Carolyn and Ken gave us Caycee and Wendi. Sharon and Russ gave us Whitney and Travis. I have loved having grandchildren! I taught Caycee to roller skate; Wendi to chew gum. Whitney drove all of the backroads of Lampasas County with me, and I didn’t teach Travis to play the violin, but I listened to him play while tapping my toe to song upon song. Wendi married Tony; their son Antoine is 2 years old. Whitney married Brad; their son Max is 19 months old. The last two weeks of life I got to see all of my immediate family: my kids, sons-in law, grandchildren and greatgrandsons. I talked with both of my sisters and heard messages from family and friends. I’ve had a full life. Thanks to so many of you who welcomed me as a stranger from West Texas and who included me in your life. I was asked if I thought we were going to a better place than this one when we leave this realm. I responded “I can’t imagine a place more wonderful than this one.” By now I know. * View “Leo Perkins Stories from the Heartland” Part 1 and Part 2 on YouTube, documented by Phil Black.
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