The Rev. William M. Atha died July 29. The son of the late Rev. Claude Ernest and Janie Beatrice Yancey Atha, he was born in 1925 in Winder. Raised during the Depression, the Rev. Atha served in the Merchant Marines as a petty officer from 1943 to 1945 and traveled around the world while serving his country during World War II. He returned home and married Sara Marcelle Dial of Oxford in 1947, and they had two children. The Rev. Atha's life changed when he accepted Jesus into his life. He became an ordained minister in 1952 and led many churches in Georgia, including Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Covington, Waterloo Baptist Church in Warterloo, Calvary Baptist Church and Light of Calvary in Conyers and Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Mt. Moriah. He was also a builder, building many churches and homes. After his wife passed away in 1988, as the result of a car accident, the Rev. Atha retired from the ministry. His purpose in life was to minister to as many people as he could, and at one time he did ministry work in Africa for six weeks. After retiring, he enjoyed deer and quail hunting and traveling around the world with family and friends. Among his favorite things to do were picking his flat top guitar and playing his dobroe to Bluegrass music. A wonderful son, brother, uncle, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, he was a special minister to all of his family.
The Rev. Atha was preceded in death by his father who passes away at age 40, his mother who lived to be 96, and siblings Clifford Atha, Ethel Mae Atha Pickett, Daisy Atha Thompson, Homer Claude Atha, Thomas Warren Atha and Vera Beatrice Atha Johnson.
Surviving are devoted children David and Melba Jean Atha O'Kelley, William Marshall Jr. and Dawn Atha; grandchildren Tom and Chante Tucker Hunt, Mannin and Kate Tucker, Lance and LaTrelle Atha Cawthon, Dusty Atha, Wesley and Brittany Atha; great-grandchildren William Cawthon, Chandler Cawthon, Cora Bell Atha; sister Sara Helen Durden; brother-in-law Bobby Johnson; many nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were held July 31 at Canaan Baptist Church with Dr. Scott Caudill, the Rev. Terry Brock and the Rev. Wayne Gann officiating. Interment followed at Lawnwood Memorial Park. The Rev. Atha loved children, and it was his request that donations in his memory be made to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, 1687 Tullie Circle, Atlanta, GA 30329.