William James "Bill"
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SHREVEPORT, LA - William James "Bill" Atkins, beloved husband and father, passed away on Saturday, July 23rd, 2011, while vacationing in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Bill was born in Shreveport, Louisiana November 12, 1933 to John B. Atkins and Katherine Adger Atkins. He attended Creswell Elementary and C.E. Byrd High School before transitioning to Sewanee Military Academy, where he grew to be a man.
Following his graduation from Sewanee, Bill enrolled in Tulane University, where the bright lights and vibrant energy of New Orleans were a welcome change from the remote mountains of Tennessee. While at Tulane, Bill studied Economics and was active in both the Delta Kappa Epsilon social fraternity and the Air Force ROTC program. Bill loved Tulane, DKE and the Air Force, and would support all three institutions with his time and talents throughout his life.
Upon graduating from Tulane, Bill received his commission in the U.S. Air Force and proudly pinned on his Second Lieutenant bars. He underwent training as a Navigator, earned his wings, and was assigned to the 321st Fighter Interceptor Squadron where he flew in the F-89 Scorpion. These Cold War Warriors were trained to preemptively intercept and dispose of enemy strategic bombers before they could reach U.S. air space. The 321st was prepared to meet the enemy under any weather conditions, and this mission was reflected in the squadron motto, "Even When the Ducks are Walking!" After three years of active duty, Bill transferred into the inactive reserves, and thought that his Air Force career was complete. However, he was surprised when he unexpectedly received two letters from the U.S. Air Force in October of 1962, the first promoting him to Captain, and the second informing him that he was being transferred into the active reserve. Fortunately, the Cuban Missile Crisis was soon defused, and Bill was able to retire from the service having achieved the rank of Captain.
While serving in the Air Force, Bill married his college sweetheart Ruth Knighton, and the couple maintained a loving relationship until the day of Bill's death. Following the Air Force, Ruth and Bill returned to their mutual hometown of Shreveport and began building a life together. Bill was active in many aspects of Shreveport's business and civic activities and became a leading member of the community.
Bill began his business career as a Managing Partner of Atco Investment Company, a family-owned investment company. Over his 50-plus year career, he provided financial support and business insights to many business ventures across a wide breath of industries, including Banking, Finance, Oil and Gas, Industrial Propellants, Agriculture, and numerous entrepreneurial ventures. He served on a number of corporate boards over his business career, including over 30 years with Aeropres Inc. and approximately 20 years with the Commercial National Bank. Through Bill's wise and conscientious leadership, Atco Investment Company grew steadily in both size and scope.
Bill viewed community service as part of his professional responsibility, and he has played a key role in numerous charitable and civic organizations. He is a Past President of the Committee of One Hundred, the Economic Development Foundation, the Southfield School Foundation, the Shreveport Gun Club and the Louisiana Trap Shooters Association. He is a past Vice President of the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, and he served as a Board Member for the Louisiana Association of Commerce and Industry, Southfield School, the Salvation Army, the Biomedical Research Foundation, and the Tulane Business School Council. Finally, in more recent years, he was instrumental in the formation of both the Centenary College Center for Family-Owned Business and the Centenary College Student Managed Investment Fund. In appreciation for his years of service, he was inducted into the Southfield School Hall of Fame and was named, along with his wife, as an Honorary Alumni of Centenary College.
Bill is survived by his lovely wife, Ruth, and his children, Alison Atkins Crowther, Susana Atkins McCarthy and husband Terry, William James Atkins, Jr., and John Edward Atkins and wife Lindsay. He will also be fondly remembered by his two grandchildren Juliette Louise Crowther and William John McCarthy. He will also be missed by many longtime friends, co-workers, and business associates. Bill was dedicated to and much loved his family. He especially enjoyed spending time with his family and friends at the family farm Bayou Camitte.
Visitation will be held at Rose-Neath Funeral Home on Marshall Street, Thursday, July 28th, 2011, from 5 to 7 pm. A memorial service will be held at First United Methodist Church at 11 am on Friday, July 29th, 2011. Officiating will be Dr. Carl Rhodes. Serving as honorary pallbearers will be Pat Beaird, Charlie Churchman, Bill Crain, Bubba Graham, Delton Harrison, Jim Haynes, Jack Nelson, Reverend Fred Patton, Aaron Selber, and Donald Zadeck.
The family would like to express gratitude to Dr. Anil Veluvolu and Dr. Michael Durci and staff at the Willis-Knighton Cancer Center. In lieu of flowers, it is requested that memorial contributions be made to Southfield School at 1100 Southfield Road Shreveport, LA 71106-1795, Centenary College of Louisiana at 2911 Centenary Boulevard, Shreveport, LA 71104, Tulane University 6823 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118, or the charity of your choice.
Published in Shreveport Times from July 26 to July 28, 2011