Frank C. Perham


Frank has gone mining

He is with us no


There are many

more mines

For him to



mines will be

High on his list,

And many more


That he may

have missed.

The Harvard

Mine, he will

Return to we know

For the apatite crystals

That he missed long ago.

You will see signs of Frank

Wherever you go.

He will be with

you in spirit

That, we all know.

Lovingly written by

his wife, Mary Perham

Frank C. Perham passed from this life on Jan. 31, 2023. He was born March 5, 1934 to Stanley I. and Gwendolyn (Wood) Perham in West Paris, Maine. His mother died when he was 10 months old, and a year later Stanley married Hazel Scribner, the only mother he ever knew. He and his sister Jane grew up in West Paris. Frank graduated from West Paris High School, where he met his future wife, Mary Tamminen. He attended Bates College, but took a break from school to serve in the Army for three years, spending 18 months in the DMZ in Korea. He and Mary were married on April 18, 1955, prior to his overseas duty.

Growing up in the rooms above Perham’s Maine Mineral Store, Frank developed an early interest in mining and minerals, but he also had an affinity for fixing cars and other mechanical equipment. It was the latter skill that put him in the motor pool with a wrench instead of the front lines with a gun when he landed in Korea. On his return he resumed his studies at Bates College, graduating in 1959 with a degree in Geology. Just prior to his graduation Frank and Mary welcomed the first of their four children.

Frank often said he was a geologist by profession, and an auto mechanic by necessity. He had various jobs in his early life, including working at a silver mine in Canada, mining for tourmaline at Mount Mica, blasting for road building crews in Maine, mining for feldspar in Greenwood, and working as a mechanic at Greeley’s Garage in Lewiston.

Being community minded, Frank was a Selectman for the Town for West Paris for several years and served on the Planning Board for the town. He also spent many years as a member of the Board of Trustees for Stephen’s Memorial Hospital.

Frank’s mechanical skills came in handy in many areas. He raced cars in the Charger Division at Oxford Plains Speedway, where he earned the nickname “The Witchdoctor of West Paris”. Stories vary on why he was called that, but he embraced the moniker and even dressed up as a witch doctor for a home movie role involving, not surprisingly, a car chase and dynamite. He and Mary spent many a chilly evening with friends riding their snowmobiles through the woods of Maine. If you asked him he could tell you the story behind every dent on the cowl of his Boa Ski. Over the years he also raced or sponsored cars in the Street Stock class, and had a short but reasonably successful stint doing mud runs with one or another of his not quite junk pick up trucks.

In the early 70’s Frank was hired with his equipment by Plumbago Mining Corporation to do drilling and blasting at the Dunton Gem Mine in Newry, Maine. He’d spent time at that mine before, and knew its potential. While the partners were busy sifting through a recently discovered pocket, he asked if he could do a little exploration around the corner instead of just sitting there waiting for them. It was an area he knew had yielded gem quality tourmaline in the past, and he was eager to explore it. Frank had one of the greatest pleasures in his life to be the first man into the hole of the largest tourmaline pocket ever discovered in North America.

After this experience Frank and Mary moved a mile up the road from their Trap Corner home and opened Route 219 Garage and Auto Sales, which they ran together for nearly 50 years. In addition to providing a living, the garage was a useful means of keeping equipment in running condition for weekend mining. They replaced their summer camp on the side of Noyes Mountain with a new home where they lived for many years close to the mines that occupied Frank’s weekends.

In 2006 they moved back to West Paris to be closer to the business. Frank knocked the old farmhouse down with his bulldozer and they built a new home with a walkout basement, where they established a mineral shop to display some of the specimens he had collected over the years. Visitors and especially children were welcomed to the shop to see the displays and to hear of Frank’s mining adventures. Frank loved to see the spark of interest in someone’s eye when he spoke of mining and minerals. It pleased him very much to think he was helping to inspire future rockhounds and mineral enthusiasts. His initial collection now resides at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, but he quickly refilled his display cases with specimens from storage and new finds.

Frank made countless contacts in the mineral community over the years. He enjoyed working various local mines with dedicated volunteer weekend crews and made some lifelong friends among them. He spoke to mineral clubs and at conferences and symposiums, rarely with a prepared speech, which was just as well because he was frequently heard to say, “but I digress…” He had so many stories to tell and one always led to another. One of the highlights of each year was a week in the summer at the Maine Pegmatite Workshop at the Poland Mining Camps. Serious mineral discussions, visits to mines, and the infamous Ugly Tee Shirt Contest was the perfect mix for Frank.

At some point during these years Frank gained a new nickname, “The Pocket Fairy”. It seemed he was always around when someone discovered a new mineral pocket. Word travels fast in the mineral community, and if he wasn’t there when the pocket opened he was there soon after. He loved this opportunity to share in the thrill of discovery and add to his store of stories. He spent so much time crawling into mineral pockets that many miners would likely be able to recognize Frank simply by the sight of his skinny legs sticking out of a hole in the ground.

It was at the Hayes Mine in 2017 that Frank and crew found the second “once in a lifetime” pocket of his mining career. The Mother Mary Pocket, named in honor of his wife, was an 80 foot long pocket topped with smokey quartz, and filled with an amazing variety of quartz crystals. It took 3 years of weekend mining, involving lots of hard labor and many tons of relocated rock to clean out the pocket. While quartz doesn’t have the monetary value of the tourmaline from his first great find, that wasn’t what mattered to Frank. For him, the thrill lay in pulling from a hole in the ground a perfectly formed crystal that no one else on earth had ever set eyes on, and then being able to share the discovery.

As he’s quoted in the book “Frank C. Perham, Adventures in Maine Pegmatite Mining” written by Karen Webber and Raymond Sprague, Frank said, “But you know the funny thing is, and I’ve told people, I’ve been so blessed to be in the right place at the right time with either the right skills or the right connections or abilities, that if somebody said we’ll let you do it all over again, what would you like to do this time? I’d say don’t change a damn thing.”

Frank is survived by his wife Mary, sister Jane; four children, Paula (m. Dana), Tricia (Bob), Pam, and Paul (m. Brenda), and honorary daughter LeeAnne. He is grandfather to Gena, Katri, Dylan (m. Kamyla), Zachary and Luke; and great grandfather to Russell, Kevin, Trey and Bella.

A private service will be held at the convenience of the family. A Celebration of Life is planned for the spring. To be put on the email list for notification please send an email with your contact information to [email protected]

Arrangements are under the care of Cliff Gray Cremations and Funeral Services.

In lieu of flowers, those wishing to may make a contribution in his memory to the:

Maine Mineral and Gem Museum

99 Main St.

Bethel, ME 04217

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