American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Henry Augustus Perkins, 1873-1959

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1960



Henry Augustus Perkins was a man who distinguished himself in many endeavors. In the American Alpine Club he became our member of longest standing. For 56 years the Club was fortunate to have him enrolled on its roster and during all these years he was one of its most faithful members who rarely missed a meeting. He was known to nearly all of us and beloved by us for his warm, affectionate spirit and zest for life. His heart was full of kindness and he was continually endeavoring to bring happiness to others. I shall always remember the afternoon when he brought me as his guest to my first meeting of the American Alpine Club; I am sure that my great enjoyment of the program was much enhanced by his own enthusiasm and love for the mountains.

Professor Perkins was born and raised in Hartford, living just around the corner from Mark Twain’s old home. After graduating from Yale, he obtained his M.A. and E.E. degrees at Columbia. Appointed to the faculty of Trinity College in 1902, he served as head of the Physics and Engineering departments for many years, and twice he was acting president of the College. On two different sabatical leaves he went to France, spending one winter at the University of Paris and one at the Collège de France. It was during these trips that he was able to indulge more fully his yearning to climb in the Alps. Actually he ascended the Breithorn when he was 19 and in 1898 he climbed Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, which were pretty stern tests in those days! But his interest in climbing did not wax and wane ; he just loved the mountains more and more with each passing year.

Professor Perkins’ broad range of interests is illustrated by the fact that he was Chairman of the Board of the American School for the Deaf, as well as that of the Avon Old Farms School and that of the Hartford Public Library. He enjoyed golf, horseback riding and skiing. And how he loved music! He could play 14 different instruments, and great was my pleasure when he would bring one out to my home for a musical evening. A gentleman of the old school (even to his trim Van Dyke beard) he was true to his tradition and yet able to enjoy to the full all the good things of today’s world. I am glad to say that we still have with us, to carry on his spirit in the Club, his grandson, Edward A. Ames, and his cousins Hassler and Roger Whitney. He leaves in the hearts of all who know him a warm feeling of affection.


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