Celebrating a Life Outdoors: Leigh H. Perkins, 1927-2021

Leigh H. Perkins wading his beloved Battenkill, near Orvis headquarters in southwestern Vermont.

Leigh H. Perkins, who purchased The Orvis Company in 1965 and over the next three decades transformed it into one of the country’s most respected sporting, apparel, and dog brands, passed away at the age of 93 on May 7, 2021, in Monticello, Florida.

Although he built his reputation as a shrewd businessman and marketer, Leigh was most at home wading in a trout stream or walking behind a bird dog in the field. He was a lifelong outdoorsman who hunted or fished more than 250 days a year into his 90s, and his reverence for nature was at the heart of his drive to conserve land and water resources for future generations.

Bird dogs and wingshooting were the focus of each fall throughout Leigh’s life.

Born in Cleveland in 1927, Leigh was raised by a mother, Katharine Perkins, who was a dedicated angler and hunter at a time when there were few women who engaged in the outdoors. It was she who fostered his passion for nature and the sporting pursuits, and these experiences shaped his desire to conserve woods and waters so that others could enjoy them. “She taught me to fish and hunt, and she was my principal sporting companion for the first 18 years of my life,” he wrote in his 1999 autobiography, A Sportsman’s Life: How I Built Orvis by Mixing Business and Sport. Together, they caught bluegills from farm ponds, cast to cutthroats in Montana, traveled to the Atlantic salmon rivers of the Gaspe Peninsula, and shot grouse, quail, and ducks.

Although he was born into a wealthy Midwestern family, Leigh chose to make his own way in the world after graduating from Williams College in 1950. He started as a rodman on a survey crew in the iron mines of northern Minnesota, working his way up to foreman before taking a job as a salesman for Cleveland’s Harris Calorific, which made gas welding and cutting equipment. It was during this time that he discovered the value of listening to the needs of customers, which would serve him well as he built Orvis. As Leigh once told his grandson, Simon, “You always learn more by listening than by talking.” Leigh often spent time taking phone calls and reading customer letters to ensure that he was serving their needs, a practice that continues at Orvis today.

Leigh with his mother, Katharine, and two 11-foot alligators she shot, circa 1930.

The idea of mixing business and his sporting passions first occurred to Leigh when he began looking for a company of his own to build. He had been a customer of the Vermont-based Orvis since his college days in western Massachusetts. After a nine-month courtship with then owner Dudley “Duckie” Corkran, Leigh closed the deal on the first day of 1965. He was a hands-on owner, serving as president, merchandiser, art director, product-developer, and whatever else needed doing. His attention to detail was legendary, and he personally approved every item in the catalog. 

The original Orvis store in Manchester, Vermont, that Leigh bought in 1966 (left), and Leigh with his sons Dave and Perk in front of the current Orvis Flagship Store, built on the same spot.

Over the next 27 years, Leigh would grow the company—founded in 1856 by Charles F. Orvis—from a niche business with 20 employees and $500,000 in annual sales to a mail-order and retail powerhouse with more than 700 employees and sales topping $90 million. Along the way, he was a pioneer in both business and product development. Among the first to capitalize on changes in the direct-marketing world, Leigh made the Orvis catalog a household fixture from coast to coast and opened Orvis retail stores in cities around the country.

Leigh prioritized products that solved problems and enhanced a person’s time on the water or in the field. He introduced the first retractable zinger to hold fly-fishing tools and the first Gore-Tex rainwear. Orvis graphite fly rods were not the first on the market, but they were better-designed and more durable than competitors’. Leigh’s love for working dogs led to perhaps his biggest coup, the Orvis Dog Nest bed—the first of its kind sold in the U.S. in 1977—launching an entire category for the company.

Leigh landed this beautiful permit off the Marquesas Keys, west of Key West, in the late 1980s.

In 1966, Leigh launched the world’s first fly-fishing school in Manchester, Vermont, teaching 150 students the basics. He added a wingshooting school several years later. “It was one of the first outdoor schools of its kind,” says Tom Rosenbauer, Orvis’s chief fly-fishing enthusiast and one of the sport’s best-known teachers, anglers, and authors. “Kids got that kind of stuff at summer camp, but it was groundbreaking for adults and the industry.” The company now offers free instruction to more than 15,000 would-be anglers per year. As his grandson Simon explains, “His passion for education and sharing has grown over the years into an important Orvis legacy of increasing access and participation in the fly-fishing and wingshooting communities.”

For Leigh, the importance of handing down family traditions—in life and in business—to the next generation was always on his mind. As his mother had done for him, Leigh passed on his passions to his children, who are all keen anglers, wingshooters, and conservationists. His sons—Leigh H. “Perk” Perkins, Jr. and David—made Orvis their lives’ work. When Leigh retired in 1992, Perk became president and CEO, with Dave working alongside him. Under their leadership, Orvis quadrupled in size. Today, the company is run by Perk’s son, Simon, while his brother, Charley, and his cousin, Hannah, also hold important positions in the business.

Leigh with his sons Dave (left) and Perk, after receiving the Chevron Conservation Award in 1994.

Leigh’s fervent belief that anglers and hunters must work to protect those resources that make time in the outdoors so fulfilling became a company ethos and business imperative. In the 1980s, he helped pioneer corporate conservation efforts by donating 5 percent of pre-tax profits to conserving fish and wildlife through organizations including Trout Unlimited, the Ruffed Grouse Society, the Nature Conservancy, and the Atlantic Salmon Federation. “I think this is his greatest and most lasting contribution to the outdoors and the industry,” says Rosenbauer. “It wasn’t a cynical business decision. Leigh did it because he wanted to be a steward of this world he loved. And if the company didn’t make enough profits in a year to support a project, he would reach into his own pocket, quietly, without telling a single customer or even his employees.” He also served on a variety of non-profit boards, and in 1985, he founded the Orvis-Perkins Foundation, which has donated millions of dollars to habitat and wildlife conservation efforts over the years. “It’s no exaggeration to say that Leigh Perkins was a friend to anglers everywhere,” says Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops and long-time friend of Mr. Perkins. “Leigh was a lifelong conservationist. Through his generosity and clear-headed advocacy, he was an inspiration to all of us who care about the outdoors. He was one of our heroes.”  

Humble with a self-effacing sense of humor, Leigh once responded to an interviewer who asked what he’d like to be remembered for by saying, “my duck soup recipe.” However, for his dedication and impact on the outdoor world, Leigh received many accolades, including the 1992 Chevron Conservation Award. Nine years later, the University of Minnesota awarded Leigh an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, for “[helping] some of the most prominent and important conservation organizations in the world to modernize their practices, create scientific research programs and achieve their potential for service,” as well as for creating a permanent forest-wildlife research program at the university. In 2016, Bonefish and Tarpon Trust named Leigh Sportsman of Year, honoring his conservation work and dedication to the preservation of the fish and waters he so loved.

Simon Perkins (left) is now at the helm of the company that his grandfather bought in 1965.

Despite all the good he did, Leigh didn’t think of himself as a do-gooder. “No one feels sorry for me,” he once said. “I’ve done exactly what I enjoy most all my life.” It is that example of pursuing the real joy in life that he will be remembered for by everyone with the good luck to have known him.

Leigh H. Perkins is survived by his wife, Anne; children Perk Perkins, David Perkins, Molly Perkins, and Melissa McAvoy; stepchildren Penny Mesic, Annie Ireland, and Jamie Ireland; grandchildren Simon Perkins, Charley Perkins, Hannah Perkins, Molly Perkins, Jake Perkins, Leigh Perkins, Spencer McAvoy, Emma McAvoy, Ralph McAvoy, Melissa Mesic Marshall, and James Mesic; three great-grandchildren; and a pack of four-legged family members.

117 thoughts on “Celebrating a Life Outdoors: Leigh H. Perkins, 1927-2021”

  1. Rest In Peace Mr Perkins. You were an incredibly sweet person. I worked for his company for 20 years in Roanoke VA.

    1. Rest in Peace Mr. Perkins. You have left a life of accomplishment, family and gratitude from friends, customers, and all who read about you.
      Thank you.
      Charley Tivenan, ORVIS Customer Brick NJ

      1. I wish to thank the man that
        helped me in fishing . May you never be forgotten. May your soul alwsys befishing . Amen

  2. My condolences to the Perkins Family. What a legendary life! I had the honor to meet Leigh and his sons when the Orvis Retail store opened in Roanoke VA back in late 1980s. What a wonderful family and enjoyed my days as Orvis employee!!

    1. I have been blessed to have known Leigh all my life and know of no one that squeezed more juice out of life’s lemon than Leigh. His zest for life, reverence for nature, boundless sense of fun, mirthful laugh, intelligent and inquisitive mind and love of people always made him good company.
      He donated conservation easements on his land just so that when the day came that he could no longer be the protective good steward of it, he could know for certain that it would remain natural habitat for all species not just the ones he so loved to hunt and fish for.
      I have great respect for Leigh and his many accomplishments involving conservation and entrepreneurship. He has meant so much to Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy over the decades. It is truly fitting that the new Education Building will be named for him and I hope many of you will join my husband MArty and me in making a donation in Leigh’s honor .
      You are irreplaceable Leigh. God bless you !
      Daphne Flowers Wood

  3. God bless you Leigh! It was our honor to know you for over 30 years! We always looked forward to having you on the ranch every September for Sharptail hunting! I hope you can hunt and fish in heaven!

  4. Thank you for your conservation efforts and making Orvis the standard in the sporting industry. I’m all in with the top quality of Orvis products. From my Helios 2 fly rod to Orvis shirts and pants. I never got compliments on my shirts until I started wearing Orvis shirts. You can rest in peace, knowing you have left an amazing legacy that your family is faithfully following.

    1. Agradeço o esforço da empresa na pessoa de Mr Leigh e familia por os serviços prestados aos pescadores de todas as partes das Americas. SINCERAS Condolências a famila.

  5. I feel so fortunate to have met and enjoyed Leigh’s company along with all of you I have met through this wonderful relationship over the last twenty years. Leigh did not pass away but simply moved to immortality for all he has contributed and will continue to, through Orvis and the personal lessons he taught us on a long drift, walking up on a point or not looking back, but looking forward at dinner. Surely our savior is now the proud owner of a Orvis 1 wt. as only with Leigh’s gifted advice could the Lord land a tail dancing rainbow with that piece of equipment.
    All times hunting and fishing with Leigh were like the rings of a mighty Oak etched in one’s own mental sporting journal, those never to be lost memories, we will remember until the last breath.
    The legend lives on in the lives of all the Perkins family for first, all being so independent and then building generation after generation on the beauty and richness Leigh brought into this world.

    Best to all of you.

  6. It was those quiet kindnesses to others, very especially including me, that no one but Leigh and the individual knew about, that made him such a one of a kind. He was the last of a generation of a special brand of conservationist; I was so glad to know him and some of his peers (the late Gardner Grant comes to mind) during my years at the American Museum of Fly Fishing, which he co-founded. Thank you for all you did for us, LHP, whether we knew you were doing it or not.

  7. I just met Leigh and Annie 2 months ago. What a pleasure to get to know Leigh, his family and friends and learn about Orvis. He is greatly missed. Annie ; you are a rare jewel. Amazing legacy and sense of humor —- even to the last days.

  8. I was one of the lucky ones to get to meet and work with him many years ago when the Roanoke warehouse opened. He treated us all like family and knew us by our first names.
    He lived a full and productive life, one that many of us can only dream about. I know he will be missed by his family and close friends and hoping they can find comfort in knowing he’s casting his line across that great trout stream in heaven.
    Rest in peace Mr. P, and thank you for showing me the respect and kindness that I will fondly remember for years to come.

  9. My sincere condolences to the entire Perkins family. I will never forget that Leigh was so kind to sign my book A Sportsman’s Life. I will cherish it for ever. And the quality of the Orvis products he brought to us all to enjoy. What a great life and legacy he leaves behind. As well as a wonderful family. Rest in peace Leigh.

  10. Thank you for sharing and my sincere sympathy to the entire Perkins family. I am not a hunter or fisherman. However, I am an outdoors lover, a waterfowl carver and a loyal Orvis customer for over 40 years (I ware something from Orvis every day). Although I never met Leigh or any of the Perkins Family, I feel like I know them all because I read every Orvis catalog and email over the last 40 years and I have kept many of them to use as reference material for my carvings. Thank you for carrying on with Leigh’s legacy.

  11. I was luck to have grown up with the Perkins family and have over 60 years of wonderful memories. I still hold onto shooting tips I was given by Leigh as a 7 year old at Fritz’s. He was a good man who had time for all. He will be missed!!

  12. We remember the association we enjoyed with Leigh Perkins and early staff in Manchester as we opened one of the first Orvis shops in the USA (CT) away from the Manchester store, The Red Quill in 1972. Our condolences to his family.

  13. I never met or knew Mr. Perkins. That said, I so wish that I had the pleasure of meeting and knowing him. After reading about his wonderful life it was readily apparent to me that he was a man of great character and merit. Thank you Mr. Perkins for making this world a better place for all of us to enjoy. God bless The Perkins Family for continuing Mr Perkins wonderful legacy.

  14. Mr. Perkins – visionary – thoughtful – caring!
    His contributions to our environment and respect for Nature is a legacy that is unsurpassed.
    So grateful that through his family his vision will live on.
    May he Rest in Peace.

  15. The quality and reputation of this man lives on in the quality and reputation of the company he built. We need many more like him.

  16. I did not know the man.

    My best effort as a eulogy is to say that my days afield and on the water were enhanced by his products and services. Hunting over my setters and casting to rising trout or tailing bones would not have been the same without Orvis.

    Rest In Peace Mr. Perkins and then get in the boat with Saint Peter and the other fishermen. I saw in a dream that they were casting Orvis Bamboo and H3 rods.

  17. My sincere condolences to the Perkins family. Mr. Perkins was an icon & an example to all. Wish we had more examples like him in this world today. Thank you for all you have done.

  18. To the entire Perkins family. My sincere condolences on the passing of Leigh. I will never forget how kind he was to sign my book A Sportsman’s Life. What a great man and legacy he has left. You are all in my prayers.

  19. I was lucky to experience LHP when I first worked for Orvis 1995-1999. It was great to personally experience his view on customer service and product development. Later years he hosted me in Montana for a delightful visit. RIP LHP. A full life.

  20. A sportsman and a gentleman. A testament to a life well lived while creating a legacy that will endure.

  21. My deepest sympathy goes out to the entire Perkins clan … may Mr. Leigh rest in eternal peace …

  22. My thoughts are with the entire Perkins’ extended family at this time of loss. Leigh Perkins was and still is an inspiration to me as is my sporting father who is 92.
    Leigh, being a modern merchandising innovator actually lived a fishing and hunting life like no other.
    I remember a quote from years ago that is most appropriate: “Orvis is not just a name but a lifestyle”.
    Leigh Perkins will be missed.


  24. My sincere condolences to the Perkins family. My father , Murray “Fog” Miller and ” Perk” were old school chums at Asheville School for Boys. My sweet father passed away in November at 91. He had some of the best and funniest stories of Perk and him and their shenanigans. Very recently I was going through old pictures and yearbooks of Dad ‘s and reading the kind words he snd Perk exchanged. Asheville School turned out life long friends and gentlemen. With the passing of Perk and my father the world lost 2 more gentlemen from The Best Generation . I’m sure Fog and Perk have found each other already in heaven to continue their friendship and shenanigans.
    Blessings and comfort to your entire family.
    Marinda Warren Miller

  25. Condolences to the Perkins family and the Orvis team. Thanks to Leigh for his dedication to product quality and more importantly, his dedication to conservation– his is a legacy to be admired and emulated. And thanks to his family for carrying on his dedication to BOTH of these legacies.

    Just a note about one of the photo captions above– the photo of Leigh with the Permit he caught. I guess, technically, the Marquesas are west of Key West… but FAR west– the Marquesas are in the south Pacific– thousands of miles from Key West, and in a different ocean.

    1. The Marquesas Keys are 20 miles west of Key West, often referred to by anglers as “The Marquesas”.

    2. Ah, but there are more than just one group of Islands knows as the Marquesas. I think LHP might have made it to both of them but the permit was from the Caribbean Marquesas.

      1. So sorry for your loss. Leigh will be missed by all in the fly fishing industry. We have lots of great memories. Sincerely, John, Kathy and Erika Harder

  26. Condolences to the Perkins family. My wife and I took our honeymoon to Manchester, VT in ‘87,to visit the store and museum, and fish the Battenkill. What a beautiful part of the world. May he RIP.

  27. It was one of the high points of my life to have met and fished with Leigh. He loved his business and was justifiably proud of it and it’s new products but he loved his sport and his family more and that shone through his every action.

    His pride radiated through his work and it made us associated as Endorsed Guides and Outfitters proud to belong.

    May you now share the river and fields with your friends and family past and may there always be a fresh hatch and tight coveys for you.
    Craig Clevidence

  28. Leigh purchased my Grandpa’s ranch (I believe it’s in the opening shot of the video posted here) in WY. He and Leigh became fast friends and remained so until my Grandpa’s passing. My Grandpa always spoke highly of Leigh and always looked forward to their visits. Rest in peace Leigh, and enjoy the eternally meandering streams of the afterlife.

  29. It seems so simplistic that a thing would bring me so much joy and enjoyment. But my Orvis reel has. This thing has been with me on so many trips and in so many moments of joy. Leigh had a hand in that. This thing has helped me enjoy this wonderful world. Thank you Leigh. Blessings Perkins family in your time of mourning!

  30. My condolences to all.
    Mr. Perkins was an inspiration to me personally and professionally.
    His books occupy that rare space in my library devoted to both business and the sporting life.
    Certainly this is an end to a very treasured era.
    Please accept my best wishes for the entire Orvis family.

  31. Thank you Mr. Perkins for being there when Fly fishing was a pastime for some and a passion for just a few. Orvis quality set the high mark for others to shoot for but never quite meet when it comes to supplying an array of equipment for all levels of fishermen and women. -Pete Falk

  32. My Sincere Condolences to the Perkins family. May you rest in peace Sir. you will be truly missed but never forgotten.

  33. What a beautiful life and legacy. What a wonderful family. Some people come to this earth and take along the way, so few are able to leave it a better place for so many others to benefit from. His life will live on with all of those he touched and all the good that was spread in so many ways. God Bless and God Speed!

  34. I grew up in Cleveland with the Perkins family. Oldest son Ralph and I were classmates from very early years at Hawken School and spent many weekends at a game reserve operated by a wild Austrian named Fritz Neubauer where we learned the finer points of hunting phaesant (and drinking beer at a young age when Fritz would pass out early and leave us to our vices). Ralph and I were kindred spirits as we both had some challenges with school and would be sometimes singled out in 6th grade for extra tutorial help after school. When Ralph died from a tragic accident in the backyard pond right after high school I had lost a lifetime friend but have never had the opportunity to express this. More recently I reconnected with Leigh and wife Annie on Facebook as my posts are usually only of fishing exploits. RIP and my condolences to the family. Leigh lived life to the fullest.

    1. Hello Joey:
      Michael Stone Here, in Tulsa OK (and DEN), for 42 years; that was a such nice note you wrote for LPH, and memories of Ralphy; (was away at prep school when we lost Ralph); yeah, 6th grade was the challenge for us; but fondest memories, which are all brought back by the passing of LPH; and, Neubauer was a crazy outdoorsman; hunting there was a privilege-
      I think about those memories every time I walk into an Orvis Store: Denver, HOU, Cleve…
      Good Hunting to LPH!

  35. What loving and humbling memories I have just read in honor of Mr. Perkins! It is good to know that such a man as he has graced our needful world with his “giving back” to the people with whom he met
    and to the blessings of nature which surround us at almost every turn if we have ” eyes to see and ears to hear.”
    Blessings on his friends and loved ones, and may he not “rest” too long before he receives a new and blessed commission from the Lord, Jesus!

  36. A life well-lived. I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks in Manchester in June 1974 and remember visiting the store and speaking with Mr. Perkins. My purchase that day was a shotgun shell belt I wore for many, many years. Growing up in an area where fly-fishing was uncommon, the collection of bamboo rods and equipment fascinated me. He left a wonderful legacy.

  37. Condolences to the Perkins family and the Orvis team. About 10 yrs. ago, I was able to work (PT) for two years at the Orvis corporate retail store in Manchester VT. And, I had a great time, I loved being part of the Orvis team, and I have remained a faithful customer ever since. Perk and Dave (sons) would often drop by the store — they were easy to talk with, just like everybody else that came in through the Orvis doors! Best thoughts and blessings to the Perkins family at this time.

  38. rest in peace leigh perkins u did really wonderful since day 1 and still passing to ur family to continues to the future
    i have been went to vt few time unfortunately i never get chance to meet u that is something i would love to and wish it did but some day
    my regards with u all families
    thank u for all support and continue for fishing
    stay well and stay smile

  39. Rest in peace Mr. PERKINS. Your memory will live on for years to come. You were a true sportsmanship figure.

  40. I’ll forever remember the friendship and what little time we shared roaring around Montana. Most of all I’ll continue to tell about the great kindness you honored a little girl with early one morning as you read book after book to her.

  41. Holding everyone in the Orvis family close in my heart today – I worked at Orvis for nearly 15 years, learning and thriving and growing inside the framework that Leigh built. He will be sorely missed.

  42. My condolences to the entire Perkins family.
    People that have vision are rare in this world and Mr. Perkins was one of those people. His vision of the world has enhanced our world of the outdoors and our enjoyment of it. A Gentleman of the old school.
    Rest In Peace

  43. Thank you LHP for giving me the opportunity to get a started in the outdoor industry and become a part of the Orvis family. Your efforts to move Orvis in a positive direction were always spot-on. You established a very high bar for anyone else in the industry on how to build a lifestyle brand, the right way. You cared about your people, the company, and the outdoor resource that provided the foundation. Your can-do mindset was highly contagious.
    The caliber of your sporting skills and business accomplishments are admired by many and will be matched by few.

    Thank you.

  44. Thank you for your passion that has fueled the fire for our future generations. May you Rest In Peace with the knowledge that your participation has successfully passed on the torch.

  45. My condolences to the Perkins family. Rest in Peace Mr Perkins. You built and left a beautiful legacy.

  46. Rest in peace Mr. Perkins. Although I never met you I met Perk in your Maiden Lane store in San Francisco. At the time I was a sergeant in the photo lab and it was a memorable experience. You should be very proud of your sons and I am proud of you.

  47. A lovely man who raised a lovely family. The Morse’s of Kent Ct. were lucky to have known the scion of such a wonderful family.

  48. Our condolences to your family. We’ve been Orvis customers for a very long time, and hope to continue for many more years. The Perkins Family has set a wonderful example of how to give back to the land for its bounty, and of how to keep that gift going by supporting conservation organizations.

  49. My deepest sympathy to the Perkins family.
    Although I have been a loyal Orvis customer for 35 years I never had the privilege of meeting Mr. Perkins. None the less, I felt a real connection to the family through their products and catalogs. The company commitment to conservation of our precious natural resources, along with the value and quality of all their products made them a brand I was proud to recommend.
    His spirit will surely live on through the family and projects he fostered with such loving care.

    Georgi Johnson

  50. My deepest sympathy to the Perkins family. Thank you, Leigh, for all you have done to leave this world a better place.

  51. My dad, Sid Stewart, and Mr. Perkins were classmates at Williams ‘50 during those halcyon days after WW 2. I have enjoyed Orvis products since the 1980’s and enjoyed an Orivis fly-fishing school in Ford Mountain, Georgia in 1989. Orvis has attentive customer service, and my guess is that the Perkins family value manners in the marketplace.

  52. I read this e-mail today with sadness. I first met Leigh in 1987 when I first started working for the Orvis Company as the Orvis West Coast Schools Coordinator and the Orvis San Francisco Fishing Manager. The very first time I met him I knew he was a force to be reckoned with and yet his joviality at times was totally unfettered. He reinforced that impression throughout the 27-years that I worked for Orvis. He was sharp as a tack and a pleasure to be around, as long as you didn’t screw up.

    When Perk and David took over from their Dad, Leigh still had an office at headquarters. But in fairly short order he began reaping the rewards of his labors fly-fishing and wingshooting through out more and more of the year. As I began to see him less and less at the headquarters in Vermont while Perk and David ran the company, I had to admire what Leigh had accomplished. And as an avid fly-fisher and wingshooter, Leigh had a deep appreciation for the outdoors. So much so that under his guidance in the 80’s Orvis started and continues today to devote 5% of pre-tax profits to Conservation efforts across the US and the world.

    Leigh has been a shining example of the American Dream. Through his hard work, he has taken a company that he bought in 1965 from $500,000 in sales to over $340 million dollars in sales per year and employs thousands of people across the US and UK. He did that with hard work and an astute business sense with the ability to see opportunity in places others did not. And he was able to make a huge success out of a marginal business; pass it on to his sons; and move on to enjoying the fruits of his labors while he was still young enough to enjoy them, hunting and fishing over 250-days a year! He even stayed with us long enough to see his sons pass on the company to his Grandkids.

    Yup, a true success story in business and as a man! There was no “Bah Humbug” with Leigh. He worked hard; enjoyed life; and was a care-taker and conservationist to boot. As he once said, “God isn’t making more trout streams. We need to preserve and protect the ones we have. We make a living from this and it’s only fitting that we give back to it and preserve it for generations to come.”

    What a legacy to build and see come to fruition. Well done Leigh. You will be sorely missed.

  53. I have been an Orvis Customer for over 40 years and I had no idea that Mr. Perkins bought the company in 1965 and his personal story. His beginnings and work ethic are what we need more of in this Country and he espoused values that I hold dear. I hope his grandsons have a great time with the company that their grandfather brought and created so much goodwill to over the decades. Rest in Peace Mr. Perkins !! God Rest your soul!

  54. I used the Orvis catalog back in the 60’s to learn the names of flies: I would cover the name of the fly & challenge myself to recall the name. A la “flash cards.” Worked for me.

    In 1968, as I recall, when we were “Grande Domain Retreats Fishing & Hunting Lodges”, Leigh floated the Big Hole River in MT with us during the “Salmon Fly Hatch” – the “Bunyan Bug” was working then.

    Thanks for your contribution to fly fishing, the outdoors and education of youth.

  55. Sending out our condolences to the Perkin family. We had the pleasure a few years back to have him fish at our camp for Atlantic Salmon . He was a charming Gentelman . Best Karboski’s

  56. I was so sorry to hear of Mr Perkins passing. I had the honor of working for LHP. What a great, kind and humble man he was. Rest in Peace Mr Perkins.

  57. Let em Be……Steve Herter

    I was slipping up the Still Water section of the South Fork of the White River,
    pushing against the cold flow of snow melt out of the Flat Tops Wilderness,
    a still, warm summer day……..

    A belly deep push up, up, up
    to a bunch of cautiously rising trout,
    and Leigh was right behind me.

    and just as we approached casting range,
    I felt a strong tug on my shoulder,
    as Leigh stopped me
    with his soft, cautionary entreaty:

    “Let’s just watch this miracle for a while.”

    6 huge fish roamed quite close,
    now happily attacking clumsy hatching duns,
    all the while Leigh with the so familiar wide open grin,
    and often, he was out right chuckling
    at the magic of trout
    rising so close and often…..

    After the longest time,
    Leigh flashed that wonderful demonic grin of his,
    slowly retreated past me, going downstream,
    and softly said,

    “Let’s just let them be.”

    I stood, startled by the abrupt end to this mesmerizing scene,
    and thought to myself then,
    as I do today,

    Leigh, your greatest talent was and is,
    that you have so often grinned madly,
    and let so many of us,
    who you know and loved,
    how you damn sure,

    “Just let us be.”

    and I’ll go to my grave
    thanking you for the great love
    and encouragement of:

    “Just letting us all be.”

  58. There’s something else I neglected to put in my earlier comment that I’d like to say about Mr. Perkins.

    He said to his grandson Simon, “You always learn more by listening than by talking.” That single statement told me more about what kind of man Mr. Perkins was than anything else he might have ever said.

    Mr. Perkins knew how to listen. That’s a rare and wonderful skill, and it’s a huge reason why The Orvis Company became what it is today.

    Simon, please don’t ever forget your grandfathers sage advice.

  59. Having spent may years fly fishing in the Orvis tradition, I am grateful for the legacy Mr. Perkins passed on to us. His contribution to all of us is beyond measure and a testimony to a life well lived. Thank you.

  60. Leigh, I’ll meet you at the club tomorrow for a round of Sporting Clays!
    Rest In Peace my Friend!
    You’ll live on in my memories!

  61. Leigh, you will be missed by so many. I know Dad is happy to have you with him fishing spring creeks again in heaven, and I can see both of your big smiles as you spend time together.
    Perk and Dave, y’all are in my prayers.

  62. This Servant of God wore the look of a man who had spent a life well-lived, and who may well have been permitted a glimpse into the life to come.

  63. Truly beautiful comments by so many that knew and love your family. My sympathy to the entire Perkins family. He left an incredible imprint on his family, the Orvis family and friends that knew him. I’m a big fan of Orvis and appreciate the hard work in making this company one of my favorite brands and also because it is very conscience of conservation efforts. May his life and memory be a blessing to all who knew Mr. Perkins.

  64. Sometime back in the late 80s I came across my first Orvis catalog as a high school kid living on my parents farm in Indiana. I was fascinated by the photos of the fly fishing and upland hunting in places far away and from that time onward had to find a way to experience that world. Soon after I bought my first beginners fly rod and practiced casting evening after evening in the pond behind the house. For 30 years now I have made fly fishing and wing shooting part of my life, taken many trips, built my own drift boat, and thoroughly enjoyed the times I have invested in this lifestyle. Today I am blessed with two teenage boys whom I have shared these same experiences with. Way before it was reasonably time, I had already purchased each of them an Orvis fly rod and side by side twenty gauge just waiting in the basement for the time to come. Now old enough, we have logged several fishing trips. I still have photos of the first trip on my dresser of them sitting in that same drift boat I made 18 years ago and still use. In November we took our first pheasant hunt to South Dakota, and in December our first duck hunt to Arkansas. All along the way Orvis is woven into the journey. Not just the products, but more importantly the sportsmanship, the character, the respect for the wildlife and the environment. Somehow it all started for me from a retail catalog showing up in the mailbox and filling my head with dreams of adventure. If often talk with my boys about the Orvis way vs. the others and make sure they understand the importance. For all of this I owe Mr. Perkins and his family a huge thank you. You gave me much more than a few beautiful fly rods.

    To the Perkins family, my condolences.
    To Mr Perkins, my respect and admiration.

    Stay true to the values that have been passed down, that’s all that really matters. And remember, some kid out there is opening up that catalog and getting way more out of it than the products.

    Noel Bernens

  65. A life well lived, and shared. A love of all things outdoors. A heart and soul that gave back as a conservationist, so others might enjoy the beauty of nature and its wonders. Now casting a line amongst the stars, and a peaceful stroll with those faithful companions of days gone by. Thank you …..

  66. Ah, but there are more than just one group of Islands knows as the Marquesas. I think LHP might have made it to both of them but the permit was from the Caribbean Marquesas.

  67. He set a great example on how to give back. God rest your soul Mr. Perkins. ORVIS Customer.

  68. What a splendid life he lived and what an inspiration for the rest of us. My condolences to the family, close friends and collogues, what a tremendous loss.

  69. For someone I never met, Mr. Perkins and his family have had a constant presence in my adult life. The first Orvis catalogues I received in the 70s were treasured and fueled many dreams. A Battenkill split-cane fly rod I bought 50 years ago and fish every season sits in the rod rack, next to a bevy of click and pawl reels. British moleskin and corduroy trousers hang in my closet next to well worn Viyella shirts. A dog nest gave my old Brittany comfort in his last years. And you have helped to preserve public access at one of my favorite places to fish – Three Dollar Bridge on the Madison River.

    This season whenever a trout sips in a dry fly, or a woodcock rises in twisting flight – pause and say a silent prayer of thanks to Leigh Perkins and his family for making the experience all that more special.

    Orvis may be retail, but it feels more like family.

  70. Each time we met — which was not often — he was the perfect gentleman, like an old friend. He even remembered my name. I still have a receipt for a weekend at the “Snarling Dog” cabin — never redeemed, to my great regret. I shall miss Leigh greatly.

    My condolences to the Perkins family.

  71. My condolences the Perkins family. I feel very fortunate to have gotten to know some of you and your incredible canines, to fish with you in Montana. What Leigh and your family have done for conservation, charity and the evolution of the lifestyle we enjoy is immeasurable. Rest In Peace, Leigh.

  72. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Perkins many years ago when he came for a visit to the warehouse , the bonus was getting his autograph in his book for my young son. I just recently ran across it cleaning a book shelf. I remember him being a very personable man and I am sure he will be missed by all. I salute Mr. Perkins and the company that he built, and that I can say I have been proud to be employed for 24 years today 5/12/21.

  73. The Perkins family, I was so sorry to hear about your loss. Mr P was a man among men. I worked for him in the Roanoke warehouse for 13 years. We always enjoyed the time Mr P spent in Roanoke. He treated all of us like family. He knew everyone by first name and he always said thank you for the find job you did. He new what position you held in the company. He wanted you to feel like Ovis was your company, too. He was a great leader and a well respected man.
    I worked in the Alteration, monogram and dog nest dept.. When he would come into town I knew he would want some new design in leashes for his dogs. His dogs were very important to him for their comfort and safety. He will be greatly missed.
    Patricia Burnett

  74. Strange is our situation here on Earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men — above all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness depends.
    – Einstein

  75. I had the pleasure of sharing a duck blind with Leigh Perkins one morning several years ago and what struck me was how humble and gracious a man he was. What wonderful stories he had to tell of a life well spent.

  76. I always loved Leigh. The very first time I met him, he was in his office with big muddy boots propped up on a coffee table. His smile was pure comfort. I had flown from Roanoke, Virginia to Manchester, Vermont to meet all the ‘friends’ at my new job.
    Leigh never treated me as a woman. He treated me as a friend. He was a gracious and loving person that will be missed by so very many.

  77. A true legacy, tradition and example of quality for everyone to measure by. I tried counting all of the Orvis products I’ve purchased over the past 40 years (including the 3rd roller bag I bought yesterday) and I’m chuckling about the fact that I still have (and use) everything purchased today.
    Quality is the one word I keep repeating in my head. The best part for me is introducing my two sons to Orvis at an early age when they couldn’t care less about the product or company. Today both of them are proud to represent the brand (one is actually a former employee) and they appreciate my respect for companies who don’t cut corners.
    I have to share my best story: my oldest son picked up a pound puppy while he was in college after I told him not to get a dog. He wanted a bird dog and that puppy he picked out (at 14 years today) still hasn’t figured out what a bird is. For the first Christmas I ordered several items online and for grins I ordered two nylon Orvis dog collars ..One for my Lab with “smell my butt” monogrammed and the second for his pound pup collar saying “I smell butt” monogrammed. Orvis called me and told me They could not provide the order because of “butt”. When I explained what I was doing they laughed and said “ok, your collars will be delivered before Christmas”. It was a memorable holiday and Orvis was a big part of the laughter that holiday. God Bless all of our families and may the traditions continue. Jimmy Taylor

  78. I live away down south in New Zealand and although I never met Mr Perkins you can tell by the products that bear the Orvis name what a great man he was. I first met Orvis products in the New York store on my return from a trip to the UK and have been a constant mail order customer since then and that’s a long time ago.
    To his sons and grandchildren you have my deepest sympathy for your loss, but for his sake please continue to produce the finest fly fishing gear money can buy.
    God bless.

  79. I’m deeply sad at the passing of Mr. Perkins. My Father loved Orvis’s products for many years, even though
    sometimes he couldn’t necessarily afford some it, he always found a way to purchase it. And even though My
    Father is no longer with us either, I’m sure that right now, him and Mr. Perkins are settling down over a Beer
    or Coffee, reflected on what they created and enjoyed so much.
    RIP Leigh!!

  80. Dear Perkins Family. I was saddened to hear of Mr. Perkins passing. I had the pleasure of working in the Pittsburgh, PA store. I’ve never worked at a store that cared so much for their employees and treated each of us like family.
    Rest in peace Mr. Perkins.

  81. My deepest condolences to the Perkins family. Although my time at Orvis was
    not intended to be a second career, 24 years and now nearly 5 years into my
    retirement I still believe in Orvis products and admire LHP for his accomplish-meets. My lifelong love of fishing especially fly fishing continues as well as
    all things great outdoors in large part with the aid of Orvis products and the
    lifestyle promoted by Leigh Perkins, his family and the Orvis brand.
    Tight lines, tight wraps, Leigh. Don Winter

  82. My deepest condolences to the Perkins family. Although my time at Orvis was
    not intended to be a second career, 24 years and now nearly 5 years into my
    retirement I still believe in Orvis products and admire LHP for his accomplish-meets. My lifelong love of fishing especially fly fishing continues as well as
    all things great outdoors in large part with the aid of Orvis products and the
    lifestyle promoted by Leigh Perkins, his family and the Orvis brand.
    Tight lines, tight wraps, Leigh.

  83. Am 91 yrs old, a retired MD, hunter and fisherman all my adult life. I always bought Orvis clothes, and still do. A great man and a great company. May he Rest In Peace.

  84. R.I.P Mr Perkins Thanks to your 101 I’m broke for life.God speed thanks to your fly fishing legacy I’m in a better place in life.

  85. My sincere condolences to the Perkins Family on the occasion of the passing of Mr. Leigh Perkins, a true gentleman and outdoorsman.

    Rest in peace, Mr. Perkins, your hard work and fine example made the world a better place.

    Orvis is a very special and fantastic company and truly embodies the sportsman spirit…for more than 25 years I have been blessed to own many beautiful fly fishing products made by this company.

    May Mr. Perkins’ legacy live on long into the future through the Orvis brand and your company’s great employees and friends.

  86. When I was old enough to know better I bought an Orvis 4 weight fly rod and reel and a few years later an Orvis round action Arrietta 28 guage. The ultimate “cast and blast”. I treasure them both and use them as often as I can. What a great legacy LHP has created and left in good hands.

  87. You are truly going to be missed. I know that you are in God’s hands probably fishing with the disciples.
    I thank God for blessing us with you and all you have given us.

  88. Rest in Peace Mr. Perkins, from a Life Longer Fly Fishing Fan and Dedicated Professional to Conservations Efforts World Wide. Bought my 1st Fly Rod from ORVIS way way back in the 80’s and my father was such a fan that he specially ordered his JEEP Grand Cherokee in The ORVIS Package.
    Thank you ORVIS for supporting efforts in stopping The Pebble Mine Project and other conservation efforts so important to wildlife habitats.
    May God Truly Bless You and Your Family.
    Brian Bowman
    Camden Loch’e Inc.,

  89. Rest in Peace Mr. Perkins. Thank for making Orvis such a good company which sells high-quality equipment and helped outdoors minded people learn how to enjoy the outdoors. Thank you too, for showing how a company can give back through your company funded conservation efforts.

    Ted Dziedzic, Chicago, IL

  90. Leigh Perkins was “Uncle Leigh” to me, even though we had no relation except that I got to know him by being roommates with his son, Perk at Williams for 2 years, and then spending time with Uncle Leigh for many years after that. Leigh had a knack for making unusual business decisions that really paid off. I walked into the Orvis store one day and noticed a tie for sale, but the ducks were flying straight up the tie instead of across it. I asked Perk what on earth was Orvis thinking? He said that the tie had come back from the manufacturer that way, and instead of sending them back, his dad said what the heck. Let’s mark ’em up and sell them as a limited edition. Like so many other customers, I laughed and said, hey, I want one. There’ll never be another one like this! So, I bought it, happily paying way too much for a tie! I treasure that tie to this day. But not as much as I treasure having known Uncle Leigh, and all the happy memories I hold.

  91. My enormous gratitude to this great person. We share values ​​that are transmitted to my children in Patagonia. A hug to the family.

  92. Mr. Perkins will surely be missed by all that knew him as an avid outdoors man to active conservationist. RIP . B. Bowman CEO Camden Loche Inc

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