Perkins, Joe J. (1874–1960)

By: Walter N. Vernon

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: May 1, 1995

Joe J. Perkins, businessman and philanthropist, was born near Brookston, Texas, in Lamar County, on March 7, 1874, the son of Thomas Alexander and Elizabeth (Hunter) Perkins. He worked in Bowie and Montague before going in 1897 to Decatur, where he opened his first mercantile business, the Red Store. He soon organized the Perkins-Timberlake system of stores, located in nine cities. He later was involved in various other business ventures such as coal mining, oil, ranching, and banking. He married Lois Craddock in 1918, and they became the parents of two daughters.

Perkins and his wife contributed a memorial wing to the Wichita Falls General Hospital, a 180-acre tract for the Boy Scouts of their area, an endowment for books at Hardin Junior College (now Midwestern University) in Wichita Falls, a donation for a new building for the local YMCA, and various donations to the Red Cross, Community Chest, Salvation Army, USO, Camp Fire Girls, and YWCA. The largest of their gifts, however, went to Methodist causes in the state. The Perkinses donated millions of dollars for the new buildings and endowment for Perkins School of Theology, Perkins Hall, the administration building, Joe Perkins Gymnasium, and the libraries, all at Southern Methodist University; Lois Perkins Chapel at Southwestern University; Dallas Methodist Hospital; the Methodist Home at Waco; Alaska Methodist University, at Anchorage; Western Methodist Assembly at Fayetteville, Arkansas; the North Texas Conference Pension Fund; Sweet Briar College, Virginia; Scarritt College, Nashville, Tennessee; Bristol Children's Home, England; and a woman's dormitory in Africa.

Perkins's philanthropies reflected his concern for the causes and were never mere financial contributions. He and his wife also gave their time as trustees, board or committee members, and chairmen to various causes. Perkins was on the Executive Committee of the World Methodist Council from 1950 until 1960 and was elected to the Methodist Hall of Fame in philanthropy. He was honored by a special resolution of the board of trustees of SMU, of which he was a member for thirty-three years. He died on September 15, 1960, and was buried in Wichita Falls.

Norman W. and Betty B. Spellmann, History of First Methodist Church, Wichita Falls (Dallas: Heritage Committee, 1981). Walter N. Vernon, Forever Building: The Life and Ministry of Paul E. Martin (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1973). Wichita Falls Times, September 16, 1960).


  • Religion
  • Methodist

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Walter N. Vernon, “Perkins, Joe J.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 20, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995