Mystic - William Garretson Atkinson Jr. died on Nov. 18, 2012, at Avalon Health Center in Mystic.
Born on July 10, 1925, in Tacoma, Wash., Bill was the only child of William Garretson Atkinson Sr. and Hazel (Bell) Atkinson. A lifelong passion for boats and the sea began on Puget Sound, where Bill was a Sea Scout and worked as a deckhand and ship's carpenter during his youth. An outstanding student, he came East to study Naval Architecture at M.I.T. in 1943. Bill served as a signalman in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II
, after which he returned to M.I.T., graduating in 1949.
After graduation, Bill accepted a position with Electric Boat in Groton. A pioneer of the nuclear submarine industry, he studied nuclear engineering at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and was part of the original design team for the first nuclear powered submarine Nautilus. He authored a book, "Introduction to Atomic Energy", in 1959, and taught courses to fellow shipbuilders on the subject. He was leader of the team that designed and built the George Washington, the first nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine. He retired from EB in 1980, having served in various senior management positions.
Bill married Martha Louise Logan in 1953, and moved to Gales Ferry, where they raised three sons. In 1984, Bill married Dorothy Santin McKenna, and became stepfather to her three children.
Bill was involved in the Ledyard community where he served on the Ledyard School Board and as chairman of the Ledyard High School Building Committee and the high school Addition Committee. He was also a founding member of St. David's Church in Gales Ferry, and served as warden, treasurer, and chairman of the original Church Building Committee.
On the family land in Gales Ferry, Bill planted over 60,000 Christmas trees and ran a "cut your own tree" business for over 20 years. Bill traveled extensively throughout his life but was always most content on his land. Bill was also a popular interpreter at the Mystic Seaport, noted for his portrayals of "the old salt," the blacksmith, and St. Nicholas.
Bill was predeceased by his oldest son, Gary, who died in 1988.
He is survived by his son, John Atkinson, his wife, Colleen, and their daughters, Kathryn and Juliette, his son, David Atkinson, his wife, LaNae, and their daughter, Kelsey; his step daughter, Suzanne Dalal, her husband, Mike, and their children, Randall and Morgan; his stepson, Scott McKenna and his son, Ethan and his stepdaughter, Kristen McKenna.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, in the Chart Room at StoneRidge, 186 Jerry Browne Road, Mystic.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the
, or the
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