Bob Perkins was a man who had a drive to make the world a better place to live. He always saw his life as a constant quest for improvement. This outstanding man and citizen of Sarasota County served as executive director of the Selby Foundation, one of Southwest Florida's leading community philanthropic organizations. He also served as president of the Ringling School of Art and Design for a decade.
While Bob Perkins was a mild-mannered gentleman, he had a tremendous drive to get things done. He had tremendous energy and impacted a large segment of our community. He was very admired and respected. Known for pushing himself to accomplish and for nurturing those around him, he had a phenomenal impact on Sarasota County.
Besides the Selby Foundation, he served as Executive Director of other foundations including the Cordelia Lee Beattie Foundation, the Goldsmith-Greenfield Foundation, the Sarasota County Foundation, the Posey Foundation and the Paddock Foundation. He left an impact on the community, because he was always interested in what could be done to make things better. He liked people, was very good-natured, and was always willing to sit down and listen.
Bob Perkins was a past district governor of Rotary and a past president of Rotary Club of Sarasota; in that capacity he was involved in the Paul Harris Fellowships and the Rotary Foundation. He had 31 years of perfect attendance at Rotary.
Bob Perkins was a trained singer and church choir director. He had been a Director-in-Chief of the Norwegian Singers of America and toured Norway as a conductor of a male chorus. He guest conducted in Iceland, Norway, Finland, and the United States. He was the past Minister of Music at the First Presbyterian Church in Sarasota.
Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Bob Perkins graduated from high school in 1949, and received his B.A. from Sioux Falls College. He also received an M.A. from Columbia University, and did post-graduate work from the University of South Dakota. He also held three honorary degrees.
Bob Perkins came to Sarasota in 1971 from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to become the president of Ringling School of Art and Design. He never lost his affection for the college, which named its student center after him. Bob Perkins was credited with laying the foundation that has led to the school's dramatic growth over the past two decades. He always led with clarity of purpose.
Bob Perkins received many distinctive honors during his lifetime including the Spirit of Honor in the US Army during the Korean War, and the International Rotary Distinguished Service Award. He was listed as one of the 13 most influential persons on the west coast of Florida, and he served as a Trustee of Manatee Commuity College.
His first wife, Eve, deceased, was the mother of his three children: a son, Stephen and two daughters, Deborah and Kimberly. He lived in Sarasota with his wife, Cheryl.
Bob Perkins had an avid interest in history and wrote a history of Ringling School of Art and Design. He promoted the idea of this internet site on Sarasota's history and helped to fund it. He truly believed that Sarasota had a fascinating history and he wanted it to be available to all citizens of the County. We dedicate this Internet site to Dr. Robert E. Perkins whom we will miss as a gentleman and a friend.
Thanks to all the people who made the creation of this web site possible:
William G. Selby and Marie Selby Foundation, Underwriter of Project
Sarasota County Historical Department:
Mrs. Ann A. Shank, Historical Librarian, Sarasota County
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Ringling School of Art and Design
Dr. Robert Perkins, Selby Foundation, Project Encouragement
Mr. Allan Schulte, Light Education, Inc., Web Site Idea, Grant Writer
Mrs. Donald Nocero, Contributor to Seed Project
Mrs. Marcia Wright Schulte, Light Education, Inc., Project Designer and Director
Mr. Lamar Brantley, Webmaster
Ms. Grace Riker, Writer, Sarasota County Biographies
Ms. Brooke Schulte, teacher, Sarasota County Schools, Study Guide Development
Ms. Evan Schulte, student, Ringling School of Art and Design, Map Adaptations, Scanning
Sarasota County School Board:
Dr. Thomas Gaul, Superintendent
Ms. Wilma Hamilton, Director of Curriculum
Mr. Jon May, Curriculum Coordinator
Ms. Sherri T. Reynolds, Supervisor Grants