REVEREND JARRETTE CORTEZ ATKINS, SR.
AGE: 85 NEPTUNE
Reverend Jarrette C. Atkins, Sr. "Jerry", 85, of Neptune, NJ was born Sept. 24, 1923 to James and Keron Atkins in Orlando, FL. He was called from labor to refreshment on Feb. 7, 2009. He semi-retired in 1995 after serving 40 years as an Episcopal Priest in numerous dioceses throughout the country. From 1995 until his death, he was the Associate Rector and member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Plainfield, NJ. Prior to joining the priesthood, he served the US Army during World War II.
Fr. Atkins earned a Baccalaureate degree in Religion and Philosophy with a minor in Social Studies at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He then attended the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkley, California where he earned a Masters' degree in Theological Education. He was ordained as a Deacon in St. Timothy's Mission Church, Daytona Beach, FL, in 1955 and subsequently ordained to the sacred order of the priesthood in the historic St. Agnes' Church, Miami, FL in 1956. His ministry in the priesthood extended over more than 50 years in 5 dioceses: South Florida, Tennessee, Ohio, Newark, Central Florida, and New Jersey. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Fr. Atkins played an important role of the civil rights movement in the 1960's. As part of his parish assignment in Tennessee, he worked on behalf of the striking sanitation workers of Memphis, Tennessee. This involved daily protest marches and mass meetings that ran far into the night. Fr. Atkins was on the rostrum, very close to Dr. Martin Luther King as he delivered his famous speech, "I have gone to the mountain top," at Mason Temple in Memphis. He described this as one of the most memorable experiences of his life. When Dr. King was assassinated, Fr. Atkins led the planning of and conducted the Memorial Service on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in the period of mourning before the formal funeral in Atlanta.
"Whatever good I can do, I want to do it...I simply have tried to serve God and all human kind and I resolve to do that as long as I am able." These were Fr. Atkins' words and they truly describe how he lived his life. He saw his purpose as service to others and he served with genuine care and concern for people. He cited as one of his biggest accomplishments, his work as Diocesan coordinator for refugee resettlement in the Diocese of New Jersey in which many church in the Diocese sponsored about fifty families from Haiti, Liberia, Bosnia, Nigeria, and Uganda. His accomplishments as a Husband, Father, Friend, and Priest are detailed in his dedication but unassuming persistence as a pastor, a teacher, a counselor, a healer, and friend.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and siblings, Clarence "CJ" and Gary "Bunky." He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Betty; daughter, Keron; sons, Jarrette, Jr., Christopher; daughter-in-law, Valerie; and grandchildren, Jarrette, III, Mark, Madeline, and Fortune. He is also survived by a host of nieces and nephews.
A Funeral Service will be held on Friday at 11AM at St. Marks Episcopal Church, 1403 Park Ave., Plainfield, NJ. Visitation will be on Thursday at 5-9PM at the church.
Published in Courier News on Feb. 11, 2009