Alexander B. Atkins Sr. was born on April 14, 1923 on Freewelcome Farm, Dutton; the son of Joseph W. Atkins and Blanche B. Atkins. He passed away Friday, June 15, 2018.
Growing up fully involved with farm activities and the Piankatank River, he developed a lifetime love for both. He graduated from Botetourt High School in 1940 and continued farm activities until World War II began. He enlisted in the army and received basic training at Camp Wheeler, Georgia. He then volunteered for training with the army parachuters. After completing jump school and receiving his jump wings, he was assigned to the 507th parachute infantry regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. His regiment was later transferred to the 17th Airborne Division, where he was in the Battle of the Bulge and later to the parachute drop east of the Rhine River into Germany at Wessel. After the war in England ended, the Airborne was reorganized, and he was assigned to the 505th regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. He remained with them during occupation duty in Berlin. In mid-December 1945, the 82nd was chosen to be in the marching unit in the official World War II Victory Parade in New York City in early January 1946. After the parade, he was sent to Fort Meade for discharge. He received the Bronze Star for his service.
He met and married Mary Jane Neff of Rural Retreat, Virginia, in 1950, and a son was born in 1952.
He was elected to the Gloucester Board of Supervisors in 1954 representing Ware District and served eight years. Even though Virginia was embroiled in school integration and some schools had closed, the supervisors built Abingdon School replacing the old Hayes School.
Long active with Boy Scouts, he helped to organize Cub Scout Pack 175 and served as its first Cub Master.
In 1966, he was employed by Virginia Farm Bureau as the first insurance agent in Gloucester, Mathews, and Middlesex. A permanent office building was built near Dutton during his tenure.
He retired in 1986 and returned to farming full time. He was later appointed to Gloucester’s Industrial Development Agency. Later as chairman, the agency persuaded the Board of Supervisors to hire its first Economic Development Director.
He taught Sunday school classes for many years first at Newington Baptist Church and later at Ware Episcopal Church Vestry, with a year as junior warden and a year as senior warden. He was later awarded, the honor of Honorary Vestryman.
He was a longtime member of American Legion Post 75 and was a 60-year member Botetourt Lodge No. 7 AF & AM. He was one of organizers of Hampton Roads Chapter of 82nd Airborne Association. He was also a member of the 507th and 505th Parachute Association and the 17th Airborne Association.
He was predeceased by his parents; his wife, Mary Jane, of 55 years of marriage. He was also predeceased by his two sisters, Maria A. Leming and Ann Byrd Tubbs, and also two brothers, Lt. Col. Joseph W. Atkins and Henry Calmore Atkins, and a nephew, John W. Leming III.
He is survived by his son, Alexander B. Atkins Jr. and his wife Christine; two grandchildren, Alexander B. Atkins III of Phoenix, Arizona, and Christine A. Atkins of Virginia Beach. He is also survived by his brother, William E. Atkins and his wife Frances of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and his sister-in-law, Barbara Atkins of Ronks, Pennsylvania, along with many cousins, nieces, nephews, and close friends.
The family received friends at Andrews Funeral Home & Crematory on Monday, June 18, 6:30-8 p.m. There was a funeral service at Ware Episcopal Church on Tuesday, June 19, at 11 a.m.
Memorial donations may be made to United Service Organization (USO), P.O. Box 96860, Washington, D.C. 20087, Gloucester Volunteer Fire & Rescue, P.O. Box 1417, Gloucester, Va. 23061, or Ware Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 616, Gloucester, Va. 23061.
Andrews Funeral Home & Crematory was in charge of arrangements.