UW-Whitewater icon Forrest Perkins, 94, dies - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UW-Whitewater icon Forrest Perkins, 94, dies

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WHITEWATER -- The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater lost an icon Saturday as former athletic director and coach Forrest Perkins passed away at the age of 94. His impact on the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Whitewater community and football community is immeasurable.
Perkins wore many hats at UW-Whitewater, including coach and administrator.
“Forrest was a great educator, a great coach, a great visionary and a great man,” Director of Athletics Amy Edmonds said. “We owe much of the success we have today to his dedication to the university and his vision for athletics. On behalf of the UW-Whitewater athletics department, I'd like to offer my condolences to the Perkins family.”
Perkins began his tenure as the head coach of the UW-Whitewater football program in 1956. His time at the helm of the football team spanned 29 seasons, the longest of any coach in the history of Warhawkathletics.
In those 29 years, Perkins coached 15 All-Americans and three conference players of the year and led the Warhawks to 27 winning seasons and 11 conference titles. With just one year under his belt, he took his 1966 squad all the way to the NAIA championship game for the first time in history, earning NAIA National Coach of the Year honors.
Perkins posted a 190-89-7 career record, the second-best among active coaches upon his retirement and currently the most coaching victories in UW-Whitewater football history. He also led the Warhawks to a 154-53-5 mark in conference play, good for a .738 win percentage. Perkins added NAIA District 14 Coach of the Year honors three times and a conference coach of the year award.
Perkins was the first men's track and field coach at the university with a one-year stint, 1956-57. The multi-talented coach was also the first to coach the Warhawk baseball program. Perkins coached five winning seasons compiling an overall record of 68-27 from 1960-65. He added a conference mark of 29-19 leading the Warhawks to Wisconsin State UniversityConference titles in 1963 and 1965. In his final season at the helm for UW-Whitewater, Perkins led the Warhawks to fifth place in the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics Championship.
He was also the driving force behind the funding and construction of a new football stadium that would hold 11,000 to be built on the campus' north end. In 1970, after seven years of work, Perkins' vision came to life as the Warhawks hosted their first game in Warhawk Stadium.
UW-Whitewater recognized Perkins' dedication and commitment to the football program with the renaming of Warhawk Stadium to Perkins Stadium in 1996. Since then, the gridiron has received numerous upgrades to furtherPerkins' vision of making it the best and largest in Division III.
Today, Perkins Stadium holds 13,500, the most for a NCAA Division III stadium, and fans continue to “Pack the Perk” to cheer on the Warhawks as foreseen by the long-time coach making UW-Whitewater one of thenational leaders in attendance.
For the majority of his time as head football coach, Perkins also wore the hat of athletic director. He was named the university's director of athletics in 1971 and in his 12 year tenure, UW-Whitewater never finished lower than fourth in the Wisconsin State University Conference All-Sports Trophy, awarded to the top athletic department in the conference. Perkins spearheaded UW-Whitewater's transition from NAIA competition into National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III membership, which completed in1981. During his time in leadership, the Warhawk athletic department grew to 11 men's varsity sports.
Perkins was an integral part of the athletic community, as well as educational community at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He was the founder and leader of the UW-Whitewater Quarterback Club, a football booster organization. Perkins aided in the development of the Department ofSafety and the Department of Coaching at UW-Whitewater. An instructor in the safety department from 1963-69, Perkins took on the chairman role of the safety education department in 1968. A year later, he began instruction in the coaching department, a tenure that lasted until 1985. Perkins spent nine ofthose years as acting chairman of the department.
Adding to his accolades, Perkins was named Merrill Jaycee's Man of the Year in 1953, Big Eight Conference (high school) Coach of the Year in 1955, and Madison Pen and Mike Club Sportsman of the Year in 1966.
Despite wearing many hats, football remained his true passion. Perkins served on the NAIA Football Rating Committee and Football All-American Committee from 1968-79. He was the Vice President of the NAIA Football Coaches Association from 1979-80. In the NCAA, Perkins served as the Division III Football Committee Midwest Chair in 1982.
Perkins was inducted into the Wisconsin High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Athletic Hall of Fame in 1985. In 1987, he was selected for honorary lifetime membership in the American Football Coaches Association.
Perkins' coaching legacy began at the high school level. His first head coaching duties came in 1945 for the Fort Atkinson High School baseball team. After four seasons for FAHS, Perkins went to Merrill for another four-year stint at the head of a baseball program. He came back to southernWisconsin in 1955 to coach football at Racine Park High School before taking on his first role at UW-Whitewater in 1956.
Perkins graduated from Dodgeville (Wis.) High School in in 1938, earning 13 letters in athletics in four years. He served with the United States Marines during World War II (1941-1944) while enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Perkins played football, basketball and baseball for the Pioneers, earning a degree in 1944. From there, Perkins continued his education with a master's  from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1950.
Perkins was born November 13, 1920. His legacy as an educator, coach, visionary and pioneer will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of those that knew him, as well as on the walls of Perkins Stadium.
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