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Richard Lee "Dick" Atkins(1927 - 2013)

Richard Lee "Dick" Atkins, 86, a retired U.S. Navy chief warrant officer 4, passed away Monday, June 17, 2013, at an Irving hospice. Funeral: 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 2, at Bluebonnet Hills in Colleyville, followed by interment in DFW National Cemetery in Dallas. Memorials: In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets Corps, Suite 200, 2300 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va., 22201. Dad was born April 16, 1927, to Elmer Lee and Eva Atkins of Addison, and was predeceased by his sister, Eva. He enlisted in the Navy in 1944 at age 17 and drove a landing craft in the invasion of Okinawa with Boat Pool Baker SLCU #36. After serving in occupied Japan, he returned to Dallas to marry his sweetheart, Zelma Lee Hand, and was stationed at NAS Dallas until deployment to the Korean War. Dad remained a member of the Naval Reserve, qualified as a surface warfare officer, and earned full military retirement in 1987 with many wartime medals and decorations, including the Distinguished Service Medal. Dad's love for the Navy also led to a decade of work with the Naval Sea Cadet Corps unit in Dallas. He was chosen to serve as the organization's national executive director from 1969-'73. He attended SMU and Dallas Baptist University where he earned a BCA in personnel management. Dad was a Christian and active in a prayer group for the 20-plus years of retired life at Holly Lake Ranch, where he golfed, gardened, enjoyed nature and wrote many poems. He completed his autobiography, "American Sailor Serves His Country," a detailed account of his World War II service. Survivors: Dad is survived by wife, Zelma; daughter, Elaine Winburne; and three sons, Richard Jr., Dennis, and Scott. The family has grown to include 10 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Published in Star-Telegram on June 30, 2013
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