Carl D. Perkins

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Carl Dewey Perkins
Carl D. Perkins.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1949 – August 3, 1984
Preceded by Wendell H. Meade
Succeeded by Carl C. Perkins
Personal details
Born (1912-10-15)October 15, 1912
Hindman, Kentucky
Died August 3, 1984(1984-08-03) (aged 71)
Lexington, Kentucky
Political party Democratic Party
Alma mater University of Louisville School of Law
Occupation Attorney

Carl Dewey Perkins (October 15, 1912 – August 3, 1984[1]), a Democrat, was a politician and member of the United States House of Representatives from the state of Kentucky serving from 1949 until his death from a heart attack in Lexington, Kentucky in 1984.

Early years

Perkins was born in Hindman, Kentucky. He attended the Knott County, Kentucky grade schools, Hindman High School, Caney Junior College (now Alice Lloyd College), Lees Junior College-Now the Lees Campus of Hazard Community College and graduated from Jefferson School of Law (now the University of Louisville School of Law) in 1935.

Perkins was admitted to the bar in 1935 and commenced the practice of law in his hometown of Hindman, KY. In 1939 Perkins served an unexpired term as Commonwealth's Attorney for the thirty-first judicial circuit. He was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1940 and was then elected Knott County Attorney in 1941 and reelected in 1945. Perkins resigned the county attorney's office on January 1, 1948 to become counsel for the Kentucky Department of Highways.

During World War II Perkins enlisted in the United States Army and saw service in Europe.


In 1948 Perkins ran against the incumbent Congressman from Kentucky's 7th District, Wendell H. Meade. Perkins unseated Meade and was elected as a Democrat to the Eighty-first and to the seventeen succeeding Congresses and served from January 3, 1949, until his death. Perkins was the chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor (Ninetieth through Ninety-eighth Congresses, 1967–1984). While a part of the committee, his work helped produce the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and Head Start. The local Head Start in his home city of Hindman, Kentucky is named after Congressman Perkins.


On August 3, 1984, Perkins collapsed aboard a flight from Washington, D.C., to Lexington, KY, and was later pronounced dead at St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington. He is buried at Mountain Memory Gardens in Hindman, Kentucky.

Many notable legislators from across the country such as Senator Ted Kennedy, Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, and House Majority Leader Jim Wright and Congressman William H. Natcher among others came to his funeral which was held in Hindman, Kentucky at the Morton Combs Athletic Complex on the campus of Knott County Central High School.[2] The capacity of the gym is 5,000 and it breached capacity that day. Local Southern Baptist pastors such as the Reverends J.S. Bell and Archie Everage delivered the message to the capacity crowd.

Perkins was succeeded in office by his son Carl C. Perkins.


A painting of the confluence of the Ohio and Scioto Rivers, showing the Carl Perkins Bridge. Artist Herb Roe

Perkins's legacy of support to education and the under-privileged is shown by the federal student loan called the Perkins Loan, named for him, as is the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006, which provides federal money for career technical education schooling. The Carl D. Perkins Bridge crossing the Ohio River, the Carl D. Perkins Building on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University, and the Carl D. Perkins Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Ashland, Kentucky are named after him. The vocational school in Hindman, Kentucky at Knott County Central High School, Carl D. Perkins Job Corps at Prestonsburg and Carl D. Perkins Rehab Center at Thelma are also named in his honor. Kentucky highway 80 in Hazard, Kentucky is named the Carl D. Perkins Parkway. The Carl D. Perkins Parkway stretches from Hazard, Kentucky through Carl D. Perkins home county of Knott county, Kentucky. The Carl D. Perkins Parkway connects to the Hal Rogers Parkway in Hazard, Kentucky.

Carl D. Perkins' grave site is in Hindman, Kentucky in a public cemetery named "Mountain Memory Gardens". Although, when originally buried he was buried at a private cemetery near his home in Hindman. In 2007 Congressman Perkins's body was moved to where he is presently buried at in Mountain Memory Gardens. Verna J. Perkins sold the old house and the land. Verna has since retired to a home for the elderly in Lexington.


  1. Rep. Carl Perkins dies;heart attack suspected; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Aug. 4, 1984
  2. Perkins' Eulogy Is Delivered By Kennedy, O'Neill; Harlan Daily Enterprise; Aug. 8, 1984

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Wendell H. Meade
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 7th District of Kentucky
1949 – 1984
Succeeded by
Carl C. Perkins