Gary W. Akin

Gary Wayne Akin, 59, of Florence, departed this life Aug. 9, 2011, after a courageous and hard-fought battle with pancreatic cancer. He died in his home surrounded by family and his loving wife of 28 years, Sally Akin. Gary was of the Baptist faith. He was preceded in death by his father, Glen Wood Akin, and his stepson, Michael David Fitzgerald.
Visitation will begin at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, at Elkins Funeral Home, Florence. A celebration of his life will begin at 3 p.m., with Dr. Tom Phillips officiating.
Gary graduated with a doctorate degree in agronomy from the University of Kentucky in 1978. He began his career as an agronomist for TVA, working with land grant colleges in all 50 states.
Gary had a love of flight, which led him to becoming a pilot and a pilot instructor. He later joined the Civil Air Patrol, where he served in search and rescue missions. It was there that he met the love of his life, Sally, and they started teaming together on their missions.
Community and civic activities were very important to Gary. The organizations on which he served included chairman of the Muscle Shoals Regional Airport Board; TVA Bicentennial Volunteers, where he visited elementary schools promoting water safety; chapter chairman of the Lauderdale County Red Cross, where he served on the disaster relief team as well as other programs. He traded his wings for props and joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He served as the local flotilla commander as well as the captain of Division 24. He worked closely with the Coast Guard in matters of water safety. Gary enjoyed gardening and was a member of the Master Gardeners, where he shared information with other fellow horticulturists.
Gary had achieved his blue belt in Tung Soo Do Karate and was a black belt candidate. It was partly because of the training and tenets of this discipline that allowed him to face his illness with courage and dignity. The hard work and dedication he put into his training were evident.
Above all else, Gary's family and friends were his first priority. He was the glue that held everything and everyone together. Whenever and wherever there was a need, he was there. He will be greatly missed by all those who knew and loved him.
Survivors include his wife, Sally Akin; stepdaughter, Susan Lyster and husband, Michael, of Vero Beach, Fla.; grandchildren, Alexandra and Samantha Lyster, April, Brandon and Justin Fitzgerald; mother, Marlis Gene Robinson Akin, of Greensburg Ky; brother, Mike Akin and wife, Cynthia, of Summersville, Ky.; sister, Barbara Akin, of Campbellsville, Ky.; niece, Ashlee Akin Matney and husband, Clayton, and their son, Levi, of Campbellsville, Ky.; brothers-in-law, Charles Speck and wife, Carol, of Roanoke, Va., and John Speck, of Charlotte, N.C. Gary will be missed by his beloved pets, Rascal and Patches.
Gary and Sally enjoyed many wonderful times on the rivers and oceans on board their boat, Tara. His ashes will be spread on the waters of the Tennessee River, where he loved to spend time.
Our heartfelt thanks go out to ECM Hospital Radiology and ER staff, Dr. David Hollis, Dr. Phillip McGee and the staff at CCI and the staff at the Blood and Cancer Center. A special thank you goes out to his sister, Barbara Akin, whose dedication and love and support were invaluable.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to the , American Red Cross or Hospice of the Shoals.
You are invited to sign the online guest register at elkinsfh.com.

Funeral Home

Elkins Funeral Home - Florence
1535 Hermitage Dr.  Florence, AL 35630
256-764-0221

Published in Florence Times Daily on Aug. 11, 2011