J. Carter Perkins
Sr.: Attorney had distinguished career in petroleum industry
When applying to the program, he was told that only those who had graduated in the top 25 percent of their juris doctor class were eligible for the master's-in-taxation program. "But in 1947, when he graduated [with a Stetson University law degree], they did not keep class rankings. But Carter knew he was the top student in the class," recalled Barbara Kyle Perkins, his wife since 1976. So UF let him enroll.
Carter Perkins, a longtime resident of Leesburg, died Aug. 19 of pneumonia. He was 91.
Born in Lumpkin, Ga., he graduated from high school in Troy, Ala., and in 1939 received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University. While at Vanderbilt, he pitched an impressive 18-game winning streak for the baseball team, and was drafted by a major-league team and played some minor-league ball. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, entertaining troops by pitching in exhibition games, but after the war he decided to pursue a career as a lawyer.
Perkins worked in the legal department for Shell Oil Co. in New Orleans, served as general attorney for the West Coast area in California, and was promoted to vice president of the Washington, D.C., office, where he influenced development of the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act.
He was a member of The Florida Bar for 63 years, was admitted to the Louisiana Bar in 1952, the California Bar in 1964, the District of Columbia Bar in 1969, and the U.S. Supreme Court in 1966.
He and his wife bought a home in Leesburg in 1978 after he was introduced to the area through a golf tournament at the now-defunct Silver Lake Country Club. But he stayed in Washington two more years as head of the National Petroleum Council, then, after moving to Leesburg, continued his legal career as an estate-tax attorney with an office in Tavares.
Daughter Susan A. Balmer of Leesburg said her father was her inspiration to become a lawyer. She remembers him taking her and her siblings to Washington Redskins football games on Sundays and on fishing trips before school.
Perkins bought a 45-foot-long recreational vehicle in which he and his wife visited almost every U.S. state; he also used it to take his golf buddies on outings to Oklahoma, his grandchildren to Disney, and to Florida Gator tailgate parties with friends and family. He became such a fan of the University of Florida that he established the J. Carter Perkins Endowment Fund for athletic scholarships.
He bought 17 acres fronting the Country Club of Ocala and moved there in 1998.
He is also survived by his son J. Carter Perkins Jr. of Ocala and six grandchildren.
A memorial service will take place 10 a.m. today in Christ the King Anglican Church, 3801 N. U.S. Highway 441, Ocala.