Thursday, June 24, 2021

Leigh Perkins, who built Orvis into a lifestyle brand, dies at 93

In the 1980s, Orvis expanded beyond waders and shotguns to offer women’s clothing and lifestyle items. The catalog also contains etched whiskey tumblers, phones in the form of duck diapers and even lighting of lumber, inspired by the trees on mr. Perkins’ property in Florida.

Dog beds were especially popular, as were weatherproof jackets from English clothing manufacturer Barbour, which became a thunderstorm for white-collar workers in Midtown Manhattan. Some hard-core sports customers complained, but the business continued to grow.

Mr. Perkins insisted on protecting nature as an industry value, and donated to nature organizations before such practices became widespread.

“It’s the right thing to do, and it’s good business, too,” said Simon Perkins. “If people do not have places to fish or hunt, you do not have much future in the world to try to sell fishing gear.”

Mr. Perkins is survived by his third wife, Anne (Ireland) Perkins; three children from his first marriage, Leigh Jr., who goes through Perk, David and Molly Perkins; a daughter, Melissa McAvoy, from his second marriage, to Romi Myers; three stepchildren, Penny Mesic, Annie Ireland and Jamie Ireland; 11 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. A son from his first marriage, Ralph, died in 1969.

According to his son Perk, fishing was not a competitive, but rather a recovery, because Mr. Perkins. Already in his 90s, Mr. Perkins still on summer evenings – with a stick and a cocktail – turned on the Battenkill to cast trout while the sun went down.

“There is only one reason in the world to go fishing: to enjoy yourself,” he said. Perkins told The New York Times in 1992. “Anything that detracts from your enjoyment should be avoided.”

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