Mr. Jack Porter Atkinson Jr. died peacefully in his sleep at University Hospital, Augusta, April 22 following an illness of several weeks.
He was born in Panama City, Fla., in 1945 to Jack Porter Atkinson Sr. and Meryl Hill Atkinson.
He spent his early years in his father’s hometown, Garfield, and later in Twin City, where he graduated from Emanuel County Institute in 1963.
He attended and graduated from Emory University’s Oxford College in 1965 and Emory College in Atlanta in 1967 with degrees in sociology and anthropology.
He was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha social fraternity, where he served as Rush Chairman.
He joined the United States Peace Corps following graduation and, after training, was sent to Nairobi, Kenya, where he lived and worked for two years, 1967-1969, with the Ministry of Agriculture helping administer the national 4-K program.
He married Jane Howard Martin of Springfield, Tenn., in 1970. To them were born two sons, Jack Porter Atkinson III and John Martin Atkinson.
After his return from Africa, he worked with the Southern Regional Office of the Peace Corps recruiting volunteers on college campuses and also served as the Director of Training and Development for the Appalachian Child Care Project.
He returned to Emory in 1970, received a master’s of divinity from the Candler School of Theology in 1972 and became an ordained minister in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.
He was Associate Pastor and Youth Director for the Covington First United Methodist Church in Covington from 1972 until 1975, when he was hired by his alma mater, Oxford College of Emory University, as registrar and instructor in the social sciences for 10 years.
From 1985 to 1987, he was Director of Development at Oxford College and in 1987, he became the Executive Director of the Association of Emory Alumni in Atlanta.
He initiated the Emory Alumni Assemblies during his tenure and served in this position until 1995.
As part of the Emory alumni travel program, he and his family were able to travel to many countries including Russia, the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean area, and make a return trip to Kenya.
Mr. Atkinson was active in the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation for many years, serving on the Board of Directors and as Rambles Chairman.
He was chairman of the National Register Review Board for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, active in the Oxford Historical Shrine Society and a member of the Oxford Historic Cemetery Foundation.
He served for several years on the Town Council and as the mayor of Oxford.
He and his wife Jane purchased and restored the 1837 Thomas-Stone House in Oxford in 1973 and completed a period restoration in 1995.
They were the recipients of the first Georgia Trust Best Restoration Award in 1995.
During these years, Mr. Atkinson is remembered for his annual Christmas newsletter, which he shared with a large group of friends.
In more recent years, Mr. Atkinson has lived in his hometown Garfield, where he was a counselor, taught at East Georgia State College and was director of the Franklin Memorial Library in Swainsboro for several years until 2007.
He wrote a column in the Swainsboro weekly newspaper The Forest Blade for a number of years, entertaining readers with stories of his early life in Emanuel County and other lifetime memories.
He was also active in, and past president of, the Emanuel County Historic Preservation Society and served as administrative assistant to the president.
Mr. Atkinson was a member of the Garfield United Methodist Church, often providing flower arrangements from his and other local yards for Sunday services.
He enjoyed working with his sister at her Antique Mall in Metter, sharing their joint love of antiques and collectibles.
He is survived by sons Jack Porter Atkinson III and wife Lorin and their three children Jack Porter Atkinson IV, William Carmichael Atkinson, and Catherine Cherie Atkinson of Covington, and John Martin Atkinson and his wife Mary and their two daughters Jane Helen Atkinson and Virginia Brown Atkinson of Atlanta; sister Barbara Mosses of Metter and her children Holly Mosses and Sean Mosses; brother Lawrence H. Atkinson and his wife Patricia of Garfield and their children Lash Atkinson and Lacie Atkinson Cobb; aunt Eunice Hill Collatz of Panama City, Fla.; several cousins and many friends.
A memorial service has been planned for 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at his childhood church, Garfield Methodist Church in Garfield, with interment in the Atkinson family lot at Hebron Cemetery outside of Garfield.
There will also be a memorial service of remembrance at the Old Church in Oxford on Saturday, May 4 at 10 a.m.
Those wishing to pay tribute with flowers are encouraged to do so.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Garfield United Methodist Church, 105 Monroe Street, Garfield, GA 30425 or the Emanuel County Historic Preservation Society, P.O. Box 353, Swainsboro, GA 30401.
The family wishes to thank special friends who helped Mr. Atkinson during his most recent extended illness, including the outstanding ICU, medical, nursing, and respiratory therapy staff at University Hospital in Augusta.