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Margaret Atkins


1920 - 2019
Margaret Atkins Obituary
Margaret Evelyn Starnes Atkins

July 15, 1920 - May 16, 2019

Chapel Hill

Margaret Evelyn Starnes Atkins, 98, passed away in Chapel Hill on May 16, 2019. Her son Dennis (1992) and her husband Wade (2014) predeceased her. She is survived by her sons Winston (Kathy Green) and Philip (Tammy Atkins), and four grandchildren: Wade, Adrian, Grace, and Meg.

Margaret was born on July 15, 1920, in Charlotte, NC, and grew up in Morganton, NC. She graduated from Duke University in 1941 and was a charter member of the Beta Theta chapter of Delta Gamma.

She then earned a BS in Library Science from UNC-CH in 1942, and over the next decade she served as a librarian in Canton, OH, Long Beach, CA, and "between the lions" at the New York Public Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

On July 2, 1950, she married Wade Atkins, her classmate at Duke and an officer in the United States Marine Corps. Ten days after their wedding, Wade received orders recalling him from their honeymoon for deployment to Korea.

When Wade returned, they lived on Marine Corps Air Station El Toro (CA), where Winston was born. Dennis and Philip were born in Miami, FL, after Wade's transfer there. Wade retired from the USMC in 1965 and they relocated to Chapel Hill, where both worked for UNC-CH.

Margaret and Wade were a team, and together they turned transfers to new duty stations into opportunities for travel and exploration. After retirement, they continued to travel, both in the States and to more than a dozen countries.

Margaret had her hands full with three boys. While keeping up with Winston and Philip, she gave Dennis, who was intellectually disabled, special attention, serving as his advocate with the schools and helping to establish needed community services and activities. Those two short sentences can't really convey the love and attention and patience she poured into her sons, especially during the rapid changes of the 1960s. But asked later by a friend how she had gotten through a trying situation involving one of her sons, she responded "Well, I lived through the Beatles."

Margaret loved the adventure of life, and she continued to teach us about it as she faced aging and death with grace and strength. She was independent, gracious, and a stylish woman to the very end of her life. We already miss her in our own lives, but are enormously grateful to have received those lessons.

A memorial service is planned for July 14 at 2 o'clock at Carolina Meadows. Memorial gifts may be made to Arc of the Triangle, 1709 Legion Road, Suite 100, Chapel Hill, NC 27517, (919) 942-5119 or http://www.arctriangle.org/.
Published in The News & Observer on June 16, 2019
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