Death of Jesse A. Perkins

Death of Jesse A. Perkins

Friends: Perkins wanted to help people
By Mannix Porterfield, Register-Herald Reporter

Almost without exception, youth turns to firefighting out of a zest for adventure.

In Jesse Perkins’ case, however, his enthusiasm for rolling out on a huge truck toward an engulfed structure wasn’t just for the thrill of it. Unlike most of his genre, Perkins approached the role with a somberness and a sense of compassion for those he served, say those who knew him best.

“A lot of people get into firefighting just because it’s fun,” Sophia City Fire Department Chief Jeffrey Pittman said Saturday.

“That’s true in all of us. But he really had a concern and a heart for what was going on. He really wanted to help the people, not just go out there and have some fun.”

Perkins, who had attained the rank of captain in mid-summer, died this week, at age 32, after a brief illness, leaving a legacy as an EMS technician, a fixed-wing paramedic and a firefighter.

His wake is set for 6 to 9 p.m. Monday at Family Worship Center in Beckley, where a funeral is scheduled at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Once the clergy delivers the eulogy, the casket will be loaded atop a Sophia City fire truck for a procession and taken to Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens, where fellow members of his Masonic Lodge will conduct a graveside service. Perkins, who served in the Air Force, was a Master Mason in the lodge and took part in a number of charity motorcycle events and the Parade of Lights on 9/11.

Along the parade route, flyovers are planned by Air Evac, and possibly by HealthNet.

Perkins wanted to get into firefighting back in his days with ROTC at Woodrow Wilson High School, where he graduated in 1997, and convinced the Sophia unit to form a junior fire department, Pittman recalled.

Out of seven classmates enrolled in the project, Perkins, firefighter Eric Hatcher and the late Craig Dorsey, a victim of the propane gas explosion Jan. 30, 2007, made careers in EMS and firefighting, Pittman noted.

“To me, he was just really a good guy,” Pittman said of Perkins.

“He’s always been for the people. He actually was not one of those guys just looking for a job. He did it with a lot of heart and compassion for people he was taking care of and people he helped.”

Perkins once worked for Air Evac, the helicopter rescue firm, and for a time at Jan-Care Ambulance Service in Beckley.

“We also worked with a fixed-wing air medical unit, and I went on a few calls with him,” Pittman said.


Jesse A. Perkins

Jesse A. Perkins, 32, of Beckley was called to his eternal duty station, Thursday, October 27, 2011. Born September 29, 1979, he was the son of Stanley Ray and Debra Irvin Perkins.

Jesse enjoyed hunting, fishing, and riding his Harley. He dearly loved his job, loved to be a service to those in need, but family was most important to him, especially his Sweetie “Emmy.” Jesse was a Captain with the Sophia City Fire Department and he proudly served in the U.S. Air Force.

He was a 1997 graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School and a member of JROTC. Jesse was a Critical Care Paramedic and former Flight Medic. He worked for several ambulance services throughout Southern WV. Jesse was a Master Mason, participated in charity motorcycle rides and the Parade of Lights on 9-11. He attended the Cornerstone Freewill Baptist Church.

Jesse is preceded in death by his best friend and brother firefighter Craig Dorsey; his grandfathers, Herman Perkins, Boyd Irvin, and grandmother Pauline Irvin.

Those left to cherish his memory include his loving wife Holly Perkins of Beckley; daughter Emily Nicole Perkins; brother Christopher Ray Perkins and wife Melanie of Bridgeport, WV; grandmother Edna Perkins of Crab Orchard; nieces and nephews, Savannah Rae Perkins, Kevin Graver, Krysta Smith, Katie Momber, Kenyon Graver, Kailey Thomas and Brayden Thomas; mother-in-law Lynn Thomas of Beckley; brother-in-law Jack and Stephanie Thomas of Oak Hill, sister-in-law Sharon Hopkins of Oak Hill, brother-in-law Geoff Thomas of Beckley; and a host of family, friends and his brothers and sisters of the Fire Department and EMS.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, November 1, 2011, at the Family Worship Center, Beckley, with the family receiving friends from 1 p.m. until service time. Pastor Juddie Buckley and Pastor Roger Tolliver will be officiating.

Burial will follow at Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens. Friends, family and his EMS and Fire Department family will serve as pallbearers.

Friends may gather with the family Monday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Family Worship Center, Beckley.

Memorials may be made to the National Memorial of Fallen Firefighters or to the fund for Emily at City National Bank.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

Arrangements by Blue Ridge Funeral Home, 5251 Robert C. Byrd Drive, Beckley, WV.