Each time there is an election, stories come out about people and their experiences through the years with presidential elections. It brought to mind a Riversider who fit into that category: the late Bill Perkins. Perkins passed away on April 19, 2009 at the age of 89 and was one who could tell many interesting facts about the presidents, having met every president from Roosevelt to Bill Clinton.

I first met “Mr. Perkins” when he would come to Aunt Diana’s Fudge Shop to purchase some of his favorite confections. Introduced to him by Patty Miglore (“Auntie Patty”), I soon found him to be a most interesting man. Perkins was a man I remember as having “bushy” eyebrows and what might have been thought of as a stern face; however, he was quite the opposite. 

He knew more about presidential history than either of us could have learned from a history book. His scrapbook showed the pictures to prove his proximity to greatness. He enjoyed relaying his experiences to us and showing us items he had received from a president or items which were treasures. He gave his opinions on the different men and felt that Clinton was the brightest.

His profession was lobbyist, founding the firm of Howlett & Perkins Associates with Michael Howlett the late former Secretary of the State of Illinois. Highly respected, Perkins was selected as speaker of the Illinois House in 1967, and in 2004 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his career.

Perkins came to my mind when a man was interviewed on TV during the recent election campaign who said he had met every president since Roosevelt, similar to our Mr. Perkins.

As the years went on, we enjoyed our encounters with the genial gentleman and learning some interesting tidbits. Mr. Perkins would continue to drive his big car to pick up candy and because it was about that time when he shouldn’t be driving, Patty offered to drop off his favorites so he would stay off the road.

I wonder how Bill Perkins would have analyzed this election. I won’t venture to guess, but I wish he was around to hear his take on it.

 Two things I am sure of: What he told us was not fake news and neither is this column.