William Robert “Bob” Henry was born in Chesley on Saturday, December 11, 1937, to William George and Margaret Elizabeth (Liverance) Perkins. He joined his parents on Lot 30, Concession 11 in Elderslie Township where the family operated a mixed farm. The Perkins family soon grew, and Bob welcomed younger siblings Eugene (1940) and Audrey (1942). The children attended S.S. #10, Elderslie, however, as was typical in the day Bob did not attend high school. Rather, he returned to the family farm where he worked side-by-side with his dad. In the mid 50’s Bob operated a grader for Elderslie Township for 9 years, to help fill his winter and spring months.
The Perkins family were devoted members of Dobbinton United Church. Here, Bob was baptized, confirmed, and later attended Young Peoples. It was at one such event that Bob met a young woman, five years his junior, by the name of Marilyn Elizabeth Wolfe. Marilyn and her family resided on Concession 1 in Arran Township where they attended Mount Hope United Church. The two soon enjoyed several local dances together, while dating. The young couple were wed at Mount Hope United, on Saturday, July 24, 1965. Once married, Bob and Marilyn called Lot 34, Concession 14 in Elderslie home, where Bob continued farming. Together, they welcomed Sarah in 1969 and Donald in 1973. During their youth, the kids fondly remember Bob playing baseball with them, barefoot and with bare hands – every time!
In 1981, Bob took up transporting livestock for Sprung Livestock. He did this in addition to farming himself and covered most of the province on a variety of day trips. He enjoyed this vocation for the next 20 years before giving up the road in 2001. In 1990, Marilyn and Bob relocated to Lot 30, Concession 11, Elderslie, which was the original Perkins homestead. It should be no surprise that Bob treasured life on the farm – and therefore had little desire to venture far from home. However, in 1992, Sarah was heading west to attend the University of Alberta and Bob accompanied her on the move out. They packed her little Chevette to the roof and headed west, whereby Sarah tells the story that every meal stop included a Husky Truck Stop. She still believes she could recite the entire menu by memory!
When not working the land or tending to the livestock, Bob could often be found working in the shop. He enjoyed the challenge of machinery repair, welding, and loved to restore antique tractors. His tractor of choice was Massey-Harris of course! Bob also tried his hand at woodworking and became quite gifted in time. Through the years, he made a variety of household items, including desks, China cabinets, and beds, to name a few. As you might expect, Bob’s hands were rarely idle. Many memories were made collecting sap and producing maple syrup through the years. Bob was also an accomplished plowman. He competed in a variety of plowing matches through the years and was always critical of both his and others’ abilities. Bob treasured the summer months, a nice big piece of raisin pie, and any publication featuring local history. Together, with Marilyn, they continued to enjoy attending dances into their later years.
Bob was a quiet, hardworking man who could be a little particular at times – especially if you didn’t clean the tool after using it AND put it back where you found it! All joking aside, he loved his family, friends, and community dearly, and always put his best foot forward. He was active within Dobbinton United Church, always lending a hand when needed. His quiet demeanor and presence will be missed.
The Perkins continued to farm until 2015, getting out of the cattle a few years earlier. They then downsized and soon called Chesley home, where life slowed down a little. Bob enjoyed touring the town on his scooter and tinkering in his garage and shop. Sadly though, his health in recent years continued to fail and Bob passed away at home surrounded by his loving family on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, in his 86th year.
Beloved husband of Marilyn (Wolfe). Loving father of Sarah Perkins of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Don Perkins of Chesley. Bob will be dearly missed by his brother Eugene of Chesley, and sister Audrey Lembke of Sullivan Township and Marilyn’s family, Loreen (Doug) Cumming of Owen Sound, and Linda Wolfe of R.R. #1 Dobbinton. He was predeceased by his brothers-in-law Wayne Lembke, and Doug Wolfe, sister-in-law Marguerite Perkins, and his parents William and Margaret (Liverance) Perkins.
Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Sunday, November 12, 2023, from 6 – 8 p.m. A memorial service honouring Bob’s life will be held at the funeral home on Monday, November 13, 2023, at 2 p.m., with visitation one hour prior to the service. Inurnment in Chesley Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Chesley Hospital Foundation or the Residential Hospice of Grey Bruce would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.