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Life Trustee John H. Perkins Dies at Age 83

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September 28, 2004

John H. Perkins, a Life Trustee of Northwestern University, died of natural causes Sept. 21 in his Winnetka home at the age of 83.

Mr. Perkins was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1971 and became a Life Trustee in 1992. He served on the Educational Policies and Appointments Committee and the Alumni Relations and Development Committee of the Board of Trustees.

A 1943 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences with an honors degree in economics, he served on the College’s Visiting Committee.

He was a member of the John Evans Club and served as chairman of the club. He also served as chairman of the Alumni Regents and as president of the NU Club of Chicago. His service to Northwestern also included positions as chairman of The Great Teachers Campaign for Endowed Chairs in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Northwestern University recognized his valued service to his alma mater with a Service Award in 1970 and a Merit Award in 1977.

Mr. Perkin’s distinguished business career included service as president of Chicago’s largest bank, Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Co. He joined Continental after serving in the Navy until 1946. After receiving a degree from the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin in 1952 he was promoted to several positions at Continental and was elected president of the bank and its holding company in 1973. He retired in 1983 as president of Continental Illinois Corporation and Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago. 

His career included service as chairman of The Midwest Securities Trust Co.; Governor of The Midwest Stock Exchange; president and chairman of the American Bankers Association; and member of advisory committees at the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve. 

Mr. Perkin’s civic contributions included service as a principal and co-chairman of Chicago United, chairman of the Chicago Economic Development Commission, chairman of The Chicago Central Area Committee, trustee of the Episcopal Diocesan Foundation of Chicago, trustee and treasurer of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, trustee of the Museum of Science and Industry, and trustee of the Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from DePaul University.

He is survived by his wife, Len (Frances Welborn), a 1945 graduate of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences who has been a member of the Women’s Board since 1978 and served on the Library Council from 1973 to 1989; their three sons, Robert G., John H. Jr. and Reed F.; and two grandchildren.