Here is the memorial article on Archie Perkins, written by John Bartos of Chapter 21. It will be published in the next NAWCC Bulletin:
ARCHIE B. PERKINS 1923-2017
The world of horology has lost an icon with the passing of the legendary Archie B. Perkins. Watchmaker, clock maker, author, educator, draftsman, and technical writer, he finished his earthly tasks on 26 January 2017 at Denver, Colorado. During a lifetime of many exceptional accomplishments, Archie has left an indelible imprint on horology worldwide. Showered by virtually every possible technical award for his watch and clock knowledge, Archie’s contributions have been recorded for posterity through his many written publications.
Born 31 October 1923 in Frances, Kentucky, Archie was one of five brothers and two sisters who lost their mother when Archie was but age three. Times were hard and during the Great Depression the family struggled economically. Working in fluorspar mines and several different farms, the family lived on whatever work their father could find. In February 1939 when Archie was age 15, he began his life-long vocation repairing watches and clocks, first working from his home and later starting and operating a small repair shop in nearby Lola, Kentucky. During the next four years he gained more knowledge and experience in his chosen field, but as World War II continued, Archie was drafted in March 1943 into the Army Medical Corps where he served until his discharge.
Upon return to civilian life, Archie took up watch-making work in Nashville, Tennessee and shortly thereafter began technical training at the Elgin Watchmakers’ Institute in Elgin, Illinois. It was during this time he caught the eye of William H. Samelius, the Institute’s Director. Mr. Samelius later asked Archie to begin teaching watchmakers, even while he was completing his own training program. In 1946 Archie was recommended to be an instructor at the American Academy, School of Horology in Denver, Colorado, where Orville Hagans was the Director. They worked together for the next year and a half before Archie moved on, first returning to the trade, then to the Emily Griffith Opportunity School (now the Emily Griffith Technical College) also in Denver. He remained there for the next 32 years until his retirement from teaching in 1983. During this time he was selected as Vocational Educator of the Year by Denver Public Schools.
But Archie is best known and remembered for his technical writing and drawing skills. His 232 articles published in the “Technically Watches” series of the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute (AWCI) “Horological Times” established him as a worldwide authority. A prolific author, his published books cover a span of nearly 30 years. His first book which was co-authored by George C. Lucchina and published in 1987 is The Watchmakers’ Staking Tool. This was followed by his 394 page book The Modern Watchmakers Lathe and How to Use It and published by the AWCI in 2003. Archie’s capstone 298 page book “Antique Watch Restoration—Volume I” was also published by the AWCI in 2012. Due to the great interest and demand for this volume, the AWCI published in 2015 his next book, the 282 page Antique Watch Restoration Volume II. Archie’s next and final book Antique Watch Restoration-Volume III is expected to be published in 2017, again by the AWCI.
A 53 year NAWCC member, his awards are both prestigious and voluminous. A NAWCC Fellow since 1980, Craft Member of the British Horological Institute in 1986, a BHI Fellow in 1995, Certified Master Watchmaker since 1955, a Horological Institute of America Director and Regional Vice President and with service on the American Watchmakers Institute’s Board of Directors. In 2014 Archie was presented the NAWCC Golden Circle Award achieving 50 years of continuous membership.
A gifted and mechanically minded technician, Archie was frequently called upon by watch repairmen and friends to make parts for watches (and clocks too) when they were out of production or were otherwise no longer available. As many of his peers have said “he could fix anything”. After suffering a stroke in 2012, the physical aspects of watch repair became much more difficult for Archie. However, he redoubled his emphasis on his lifelong passion for technical writing and drawing until he was 93 years old.
A devoted family man, Archie leaves behind his daughter Judy L. Perkins, son Richard A. Perkins and three grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife Daphene (Langford) Perkins in 2005.
His many friends and horological colleagues in the NAWCC, AWCI, Chapter 21 (Denver) and Chapter 160 (Boulder) will profoundly miss him and the wise counsel he gave to all of us .
John E. Bartos (CO.)