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Mar 29, 2019 12:07 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Roswell Buchard Perkins Dies March 10

Mar 29, 2019 12:07 PM

Roswell Burchard Perkins, retired partner of Debevoise & Plimpton, who served in Eisenhower’s sub-cabinet as an assistant secretary to the new Department of Health, Education and Welfare (1953-1956) and as Counsel to Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller (1958-1959), died on March 10, 2019, in Manhattan. He was 92.

Born May 21, 1926, in Boston, raised in Brookline, Massachusetts, the son of Paul Franklin Perkins and Agnes Leeds Burchard Perkins, he was a graduate of Pomfret School (1943), Harvard College (NROTC/ensign) (1947) and Harvard Law School (1949).

He joined Debevoise, Plimpton & McLean in 1949, became a partner in 1957 and retired in 2001, and initiated and was first resident partner of the Moscow office of Debevoise & Plimpton (1997-2001).

He was president of Youth for Eisenhower in 1951-1952 (later merged into Citizens for Eisenhower), chair of the New York Young Republicans Club in 1953, assistant counsel to Senate Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce (the “Kefauver Committee”) in 1953, general counsel to New York State Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1958-1959, and head of the domestic policy platform for Rockefeller’s proposed run for the 1964 Republican presidential nomination. He was a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, chair of the Special Committee on the Federal Conflict of Interest Laws, director and secretary of the New York Urban Coalition in 1967, co-chair of the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, 1973-1975, and president of the American Law Institute, 1980-1993; and chair of ALI Council, 1993 to 2008.

Mr. Perkins was president of the Harvard Alumni Association, 1970 to 1971; president of the Harvard Club of New York City, 1975 to 1977; first president of the noard of the School of American Ballet, 1975 to 1980; past trustee of the Pomfret and Brearley Schools, Salzburg Global Seminar, and the Commonwealth Fund; and past director of Fiduciary Trust Co. Int’l and of Bowery Savings Bank.

A resident of Manhattan, he was an 11th generation summer resident of Little Compton, Rhode Island. He also had residences on Horsehead Island in midcoast Maine (1976-2009) and in Quogue (2008-2019). He enjoyed tennis and sailing, including six Newport to Bermuda, two Marblehead to Halifax and two Annapolis to Newport races.

Predeceased by his wife, Joan Titcomb Perkins, and his brother, Paul F. Perkins, he is survived by his wife, Susan Harfield Perkins,;his children, Roswell B. Perkins Jr. (Marian), Laura Perkins (Gary Waldron) and Nancy Perkins; his grandchildren Renny and Samantha (Brian Doyle) Waldron, James and Christie (Bernardo Langer) Perkins; a great-grandson, Russell Doyle; stepchildren, Amanda Leness (Keith Gubbin), Susan Leness Gilbert and Tony Leness (Katharine) and step-grandchildren, Jack Gubbin, Max, Eliza and Olivia Gilbert, Lucy, George and Ogden Leness; a sister-in-law, Mary Perkins; nieces Zizi LaCava (John), Bettina Mueller (Ken McCarthy), Augusta Perkins Stanislaw (Joseph); and nephews Paul (Nancy) and Warren Perkins (Nancy) and their families.

A memorial service will be held in New York City on Monday, April 29. Those who wish to attend should send a note to rodperkinsservice@gmail.com.

Memorial donations may be made to the School of American Ballet, 165 West 65th Street, New York, NY 10023; or to the American Law Institute, 4025 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

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