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The Carthage Press
  • 'Marlin wanted to come back home'

  • One of the most famous Carthaginians is coming home, 17 years after his death.
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  • One of the most famous Carthaginians is coming home, 17 years after his death.
    Marlin Perkins, and his wife, Carol Perkins, will be buried in a public ceremony at Park Cemetery, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Perkins family burial plot. The family requests that no pictures be taken at this service.
    Carthage Historian Sue Vandegriff said Marlin Perkins had wanted to be buried in Carthage, but he also didn't want to leave his wife, the family decided his ashes wouldn't be buried until she died.
    Carol Perkins, a conservationist and author in her own right, died at the age of 95 on Oct. 20, 2012.
    The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported shortly after her death that Carol Perkins, a one-time kindergarten teacher, had never been in the wild before she married Marlin Perkins in 1960, but she became his travel companion, partner and a television commentator and lecturer herself.
    According to the article, written by Sue Vandegriff for the Carthage Wall of Fame entry for Perkins which was dedicated last year, Perkins was born in 1905 to Mynta and Judge Joseph Perkins.
    His mother died when Marlin was 7 after she nursed him through pneumonia. She actually caught the disease from her son and died.
    Judge Joseph Perkins sent Marlin to live with his Aunt Laura on her farm in Kansas, where he remained for nine years while the two older boys were sent to a private school.  Marlin loved farm life and his favorite activity was following the horses when they were plowing and bring home any creature the blade brought up. Eventually Aunt Laura found his cache of live snakes, worms, and toads and evicted them from under her house. Not to be deterred, Marlin offered to work free for a neighbor who had horses, filling the stalls with hay. As the farmer had no reason to go to the hayloft, he could and did set up another small zoo of snakes.
    When he was 14 he was sent to Wentworth Military Academy to school but the blue racer snakes he kept in his closet were soon discovered and ousted. At 16 his father remarried and the entire family was back in Carthage with Marlin in high school, where he played center on the football team.
    After he graduated and spent a year seeing the country, he went to the University of Missouri and enrolled in agriculture, but he loved animals, ended up quitting college and applying as the clean- up person at the St. Louis zoo. After two years he headed their reptile department.
    From St. Louis he became the director of New York Zoological Gardens in Buffalo, and after a few years there he moved on to Chicago where he got into TV and introduced people to the animals he so loved.
    Page 2 of 2 - On his show called Zoo Parade he would appear with an exotic animal and tell his audience about its natural habitat. For 6 years he hosted Zoo Parade, then he moved back to St. Louis and Wild Kingdom was born, and that show would win 4 Emmys in its long run on the air. The show was aired on 200 stations and broadcast worldwide in more than 40 countries.
    Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom is still on the air. Perkins hosted it from 1963 until 1985.
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