After graduating from Mountain Home High School, Persh enrolled in the University of Idaho at Moscow, where he was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and where he received a bachelor's degree in range management in 1941.
On July 20, 1941, Persh married Barbara Eloise Kenagy ("Barb") at a church camp situated on Payette Lake near McCall, Idaho. They honeymooned in a lookout tower in the Payette National Forest while he was working for the U.S. Forest Service.
During World War II, Persh joined the U.S. Army Air Corps for the duration of the war, was commissioned a lieutenant and was trained as a bombardier. For most of his career, Persh worked for the Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Early in his career, his work took him to Moses Lake, Wash. (1946-1956), Cheney, Wash. (1956-1957), and Ephrata, Wash. (1957-1962). While in Moses Lake and Ephrata, he worked on the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project, which opened the fertile basin to irrigated farming.
In 1962, he accepted the position of assistant state conservationist at Bozeman, where he appointed a team headed by Bob Ross to do a range management survey of Yellowstone National Park. The resulting study determined that the park was being overgrazed and has been validated by several subsequent surveys.
In 1968, Persh accepted an overseas assignment to India. He and Barbara lived at Chandigarh, in the State of Punjab, from 1968 to 1972. With a team of a soil conservationist, an engineer and an agronomist, a series of demonstrations brought Indian leaders and agriculturists together to learn modern methods to improve food production and to share their own methods.
Upon returning to the United States in 1972, he was assigned as the assistant state conservationist for the state of Nebraska and moved to
Lincoln. He retired from the USDA at Lincoln in 1974. He also spent several years working for the Near East Foundation, acting as a temporary secretary of agriculture in Lesotho, Africa, helping the Basotho people learn to conserve their rapidly eroding top-soil.
From 1977 to 1979, he and Barbara lived in Arusha, Tanzania, where he helped the semi-nomadic Masai Tribe improve their grazing land and livestock quality.
In 1979, Persh and Barb returned to the place they loved most, Bozeman. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1991.
He and Barbara were active in the Hope Lutheran Church. He especially liked hunting, fishing, hiking and camping in Yellowstone Park.
After a family reunion in Bozeman, they took five grandchildren home through the northern states to homes in Minnesota and New York, then spent a month exploring Quebec and Halifax.
Many adventures were spent in the travel trailer, exploring the southwest states and visiting family and friends. Three entire summers were spent with the trailer seeing much of Alaska, fishing for salmon and halibut, digging clams and enjoying Alaska.
Three sons, Michael, Corwin, and Richard, and their wives, Kanako, Karen, and Shirley, grandchildren Melanie, Chardonnay, Karl, Anneliese (Greg Sherman), Heidi (David Holmes) and Richard (LeAnne), and one great-grandson, Alisain Sherman, were the pride of Persh's life.
All of Persh's sons served in the military. Michael served as a supply officer on a nuclear submarine and several years later on supply ships in Scotland, Spain and on the Indian Ocean. After retiring as Captain, USN, he and his wife, Kanako, returned to Bozeman to be near his parents and enjoy the hunting and fishing.
Corwin is a dermatologist who lives in Minnesota with his wife, Karen. They have a daughter, Chardonnay, in medical school in South Carolina, and a son, Karl, who is a doctor finishing his residency in Chicago.
Richard married Shirley, who was a daughter of a pioneer rancher in the foothills near Gallatin Gateway. Richard retired as an engineer working at disposing nuclear waste. They now reside in Richland, Wash.
During 2005, Persh and Barbara moved to Hillcrest Senior Living Neighborhood on Highland Boulevard. He died at Birchwood at Hillcrest.
He was preceded in death by his parents, one sister and two brothers.
Persh is survived by his wife, Barbara Vance of Bozeman; three sons, Capt. Michael Vance (USN ret.) of Bozeman, Dr. Corwin Vance of Shorewood, Minn., and Richard Vance of Richland, Wash., six grandchildren and one great-grandson.
A brief celebration of Persh's life will be held from 2-3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the chapel at Aspen Pointe, 1201 Highland Blvd., in Bozeman.
All friends are invited. Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service (www.dokkennelson.com).