Norwich - Martha L. Atkinson, 81, died peacefully with her family at her side on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, at Avalon Healthcare in Mystic.
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She was born Sept. 11, 1931, in Alton, Ill., the daughter of John O. and Edna (Jacob) Logan. Martha's childhood was spent in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and in the suburban area of Chicago. From early childhood, she studied piano and was somewhat of a prodigy. Her family re-located to Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., where Martha spent her high school years as an outstanding student, an athlete when there weren't that many opportunities for girls, and especially as a musician. She then went on to Connecticut College "For Women", as she often reminded us, and graduated in 1952, with a major in piano performance.
Also in 1952, she was married to William G. Atkinson and began a new life as a wife and eventually a mother. Martha and Bill had three sons, William G. Atkinson III, known as "Gary", John Robert Atkinson, and David Logan Atkinson.
The family moved to Gales Ferry. In 1962, the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut established a new congregation in Gales Ferry, St. David's Episcopal Church. Martha played the piano for its first service in the Gales Ferry School and went on to serve many years as the incredibly creative choir director and organist.
Martha was active in Cub and Boy Scouts with her sons, two of whom went on to obtain Eagle Scout Rank. She was active in civic organizations, school affairs, and did everything and more that a perfect wife and mother did in the 60s and 70s.
Musically, Martha participated in everything a pianist could do in the area. She gave piano lessons, an occupation that continued for almost 40 years, was the piano accompanist for the United Methodist Players, was a number of Pfizer musical productions, and also worked with the River Rep at the Ivoryton Theater. One of her favorite "gigs" at the Ivoryton Playhouse was being musical director and playing "Sister Martha", the pianist in their productions of Nunsense I and II.
In the early 80s, she and Bill were divorced, and she began a new life in Norwich. Martha and Deborah Lyon established a home, a piano studio, and a piano duet team known as "Two Plus Two". This duo played programs all over New England in the 80s and 90s, entertaining clubs, civic and church groups, and providing music for many memorable sing-alongs.
Martha was the choir director at the Church of the Resurrection in Norwich, and later choir director and organist at First Baptist Church of North Stonington, and St. Mark Lutheran Church in Norwich. In recent years, she had been the choir accompanist at St. Mark Church, while her partner, Deb Lyon, played the organ and directed the choir. Martha loved singing and was a section leader and occasional accompanist for Cappella Cantorum of Deep River. She also served for a number of years as the principal accompanist of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Chorus.
Her teaching at the Atkinson-Lyon Piano Studio touched many lives and brought music to countless children and adults. She was an extraordinary teacher and a marvelous influence on many people.
Martha also excelled in fine arts. Her posters were legendary, and her needlework has "decked the walls" in her home and the homes of family and friends. An avid reader, she never had fewer than two or three books going at a time.
Martha is survived by her beloved life partner, Deborah Lyon; two sons, John R. Atkinson and his wife, Colleen, of Old Lyme, David Logan Atkinson and his wife, LaNae, of Mystic; a brother, John O. Logan Jr. of Wickenburg, Ariz.; sister-in-law, Nadine Logan of Milford; grandchildren, Kelsey Henderson of Mystic, Kathryn Atkinson and Juliette Atkinson, both of Old Lyme; and many extended family members and friends.
She was predeceased by her son and daughter-in-law, W. Gary and Judith Atkinson, who died in Pan-Am Flight 103 bombing in Lockerbie, Scotland on Dec. 21, 1988, and a brother, Robert Logan of Milford.
There are no calling hours. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, at St. Mark Lutheran Church, Norwich.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Mark Lutheran Church, 248 Broadway, Norwich, CT 06360.
To leave an online condolence, please visit www.churchandallen.com
Published in The Day on Nov. 12, 2012
Arrangements under the direction of:
Church & Allen Funeral Service
136 Sachem Street | Norwich, CT 06360 | (860) 889-2374