John Melvin "Mel" Atkinson|
1920 ~ 2013
John Melvin "Mel" Atkinson, 92, was born November 27, 1920, to John Thomas Atkinson and Emma Edith Rynearson. The second child and only son, he had two sisters, Naomi Edith Atkinson Cameron and Jennie Mae Atkinson Davidson, both deceased. He married Gwenyth "Gwen" Mary Coombs on September 18, 1946. They were the parents of two sons, Robert Melvin Atkinson and John Wendell Atkinson. John was a severely handicapped child due to extreme prematurity. He lived in that condition for 32 years, passing away June 28, 1981.
Mel, as he was known, passed away April 18, 2013 at the home of his son Robert and wife Margaret Martin Atkinson, in Patchogue, NY, after complications following surgery for a fractured femur on February 28, 2013, and several weeks in an extended care center. He was then transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital, Long Island, NY, to be nearer to his son's home in New York on March 29, 2013. After an aspiration of food, he was moved to his son's home to be cared for by family members until his death April 18, 2013.
Mel excelled in sports at Granite High School, particularly basketball and track. In 1938 the team from Granite won the state basketball tournament. There was only one division then. That year he enrolled at the University of Utah, where he studied history and physical education. For the following three years he was a guard on the basketball team and wore number 21 on his jersey. He was awarded the University of Utah Chronicle's "Athlete of the Year" trophy in 1942.
In October 1942, he was drafted into the United States Army, serving with the 91st Infantry Division, where he enjoyed his assignment as Division Sports Director. In addition, he saw action in several battles across Italy until September, 1945. While in Rome, he was in one of the many groups of servicemen who received individual blessings from Pope Pius XII.
Having arrived back in the United States, he was discharged in November, 1945, at Fort Douglas, Utah, the same place where he'd been inducted into the army three years earlier. In recognition of his wartime service, he was granted an extra year of athletic eligibility, so he resumed his career with the U of U basketball team wearing his number 21 for a fourth year. In 1946, he tried out for the New York Knickerbockers, making it to the last cut. He returned to Salt Lake City in November, 1946 to resume his married life.
On May 1, 1947 he joined the Salt Lake City police department, where he served with distinction from patrolman to senior lieutenant in most of the department's divisions. In August 1967, Mel attended the FBI National Academy, 60th session, in Washington, DC, in a class of 100 officers from various US police departments and several foreign countries. Mel's police service extended for 36 years and two months.
Before his retirement on July 1, 1983, Mel had received much recognition for his many years of service. After retiring, he enjoyed caring for his house and yard.
Mel is survived by his wife, Gwen, his son, Robert and his wife Margaret, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, April 24 at 1:30 p.m. at the Jenkins-Soffe Mortuary, 4760 S. State Street, Murray, where friends may call Tuesday evening from 6-8 p.m. and Wednesday 12:30-1:15 p.m., prior to services. Interment at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park.
Online condolences may be shared at: www.jenkins-soffe.com.
Published in Deseret News from Apr. 21 to Apr. 22, 2013