Albert “Perk” Bingham passed quietly at his home, surrounded by family members, on March 19, 2019. He was 83.
Born April 27, 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio to Albert and Ethel (Black) Bingham, he was nicknamed “Perk” by the nurses for being such a perky baby. A bit of a scamp in his youth, his mother Ethel loved to show one elementary school picture to her grandchildren. When they couldn’t identify him, “That’s the day he played hooky,” she would gleefully reply.
He lived his life to the fullest. Among various adventures, he served in the Coast Guard in New York City in the ‘50s, taught skiing at Mammoth Mountain, CA, was a bouncer at a casino in Reno and a photographer’s assistant in New York and Los Angeles.
Ships and boats of all sorts were one of his greatest loves. Along with the Coast Guard, he served on iron ore ships in the Great Lakes, went around the world at least twice with the Merchant Marine and Masters, Mates & Pilots, worked on a tour boat in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and ran tugboats in Florida and Washington. Perk joined the Washington State Ferry system in 1979, and was a well known, friendly face on the Seattle-Bainbridge run. He was the first captain on the “new” Jumbo Mark II ferry Wenatchee when it launched in 1998. He retired from the ferries in 2000.
He met his Finnish wife, Sirkku (Hallsberg), in New York City in the spring of 1967. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on November 2, 2018.
A lifelong traveler, during his time at sea he stopped at various colorful ports, including, but not limited to, Casablanca, Durban, Bombay, Kobe, Japan and Vietnam. With his wife, he also traveled extensively through England and Ireland, as well as trips to Australia and New Zealand and road, boat and train trips throughout Canada and the United States.
An avid genealogist, Perk was actively involved with the Sons of the American Revolution and the Warren County Genealogical Society, as well as attending genealogical conferences.
Perk never met a stranger he didn’t want to chat with, a bagpipe he didn’t tap his foot to, a piece of wood he couldn’t make into something beautiful or a Gilbert and Sullivan song he didn’t sing along with. Always a gentleman, ever ready with a joke or a story, he was colorful and full of life, even to the end, and will be greatly missed.
Perk is survived by his wife, Sirkku, brother Donald Bingham, children Marinda Bingham (Patrick Kelly), Kirstie Bingham (Michael Kelly), Jennifer Flynn (Kevin), Jonathan Bingham and Megan Laine (Leo), as well as grandchildren Olivia, August and Ian Laine and Teagan and Seamus Flynn. He was preceded in death by his brothers Robert and Thomas Bingham.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Warren County Genealogical Society, 406 Justice Dr., Lebanon, Ohio 45036, firstname.lastname@example.org or the Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society https://seattlegilbertandsullivansociety.wildapricot.org/Donate. A celebration of life service will be held at a later date.