C. Lynwood Athey Sr., 84, of Front Royal, peacefully passed away at his home, on January 20, 2021. He was surrounded by his loving children, their spouses, his seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, following a year long struggle with dementia. A private service will be held on Sunday, January 24, 2021 at 2p.m. with internment to follow at the Fairview United Methodist Church. Rev. Gary Heaton, the former minister at the Front Royal United Methodist Church, of which Mr. Athey was a member, will be officiating.
Our father was born in Front Royal, Virginia on September 12, 1936, the son of Connie Marion Athey Sr. and Viola Pearl (Fox) Athey. Early in life, he exhibited unusual athletic prowess, receiving twelve varsity letters at his beloved Warren County High School in basketball, baseball, track, and football. He was heavily recruited to play college football by schools from across the country before accepting a football scholarship from the University of Maryland who, the year prior to his matriculation, won it's only national championship in football. While at Maryland, our father played for the legendary Jim Tatum on two undefeated Orange Bowl teams, losing each time to the University of Oklahoma for the national championship. In 2007, he was inducted into the Warren County Athletic Hall of Fame.
Following college, he returned to Front Royal and met the love of his life, our mother, Phyllis Anne Madagan Athey who, following many attempts, consented to marry him on November 21, 1959. In order to support his growing family, he began teaching, coaching, and driving a school bus at John S. Mosby Academy, making life long friends of many of his students. By 1965, he had secured a federal government job with health insurance and retirement, initially working in the Department of Corrections before finishing his working career in the Department of Agriculture at the Farmers Home Administration. In this role, our father made crop loans to family farmers and helped construct modest homes with federally subsidized loans for thousands of poor working families throughout the Shenandoah Valley. Whenever a new family moved into the first home they ever owned, our father would buy them bread and a ham which he delivered to their new home accompanied by his wife and children. Following his retirement in 1996, rarely a week went by when our father was not contacted by someone he had helped save their farm or secure their first home.
For many years, our father was a leader in the American Cancer Society Fundraising drive. He was also a member of the Loyal Order of the Moose where he loved to play cards weekly with his high school friends. He also served as chairman of youth activities at our local Elks Lodge where he spearheaded the local hoop shoot contest and the Elks Boys Summer Camp. He was most proud of casting the deciding vote in establishing the first scholarship awarded by the Elks to a graduating Senior from Warren County High School.
Our parent's marriage was blessed with four children, raised in a Christian home by loving and committed parents. Each Sunday morning our parents would require us to attend services at the Front Royal United Methodist Church which we sometimes complained about to no avail. Our parents worked in tandem during our youth in both correcting and encouraging their children to believe that, with a college education, any goal they sought to reach could be attained. They sacrificed greatly to secure their children an education with our father working two additional part-time jobs and our mother babysitting during most of our school years. Most importantly, they never gave up on their children no matter how many times their children failed to deserve their loving guidance.
As their children excelled in school, our parents patiently reminded each of us that it was important that we use our education to help other people in our community. Our father served as unofficial campaign strategist and our mother served as cheerleader and hardest worker as their children ran for various public offices, celebrating along with the family at the end of each endeavor. Following our mother's death in 2003, our father dedicated most of his time to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, stating many times that his retirement job was to pick up and deliver his grandchildren to their various activities. Of course, he always stayed to watch and offered advice to each of them following the activity as he had done so many times with each of us.
In the last year of his life, as he faced the horror of dementia, he set the final example for his children of how a Christian faces death. We are most relieved that the Lord has taken him to Heaven. We are also grateful that he was able to remain in his own home being cared for by his family with the assistance of some very special people. Fortunately, up until the end of his life he was still cognizant of who we were and still took great pleasure in recounting all of his life experiences one last time. We will always treasure those last months.
Our father is survived by two sons, Clifford L. Clay Athey Jr. and his wife Stacey Lynne Athey, and Mark Edward Athey and his wife Lisa Marie Athey; two daughters, Kimberly Marion Athey, and Lori Athey Cockrell and her husband Ricky Allen Cockrell; two sisters, Lelia Athey Mauck and Brenda Athey Smith; two grandsons, Patrick Blake Cockrell and Clifford Lynwood (Clayton) Athey III; five granddaughters Sarah Athey Jackson, Katelyn Madagan Athey, Anneslee Clay Cockrell, Kara Marion Athey, and Madagan Marie Athey; two great-granddaughters, Saige Leigh Jackson and Lilly Anne Jackson; a nephew who our father considered a son, Ronnie Madagan; numerous nephews, nieces, grandnephews, and grandnieces.
In addition to his mother and father, our father was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Phyllis Madagan Athey; two brothers Connie Marion Athey Jr. and William Sylvester Athey.
Honorary Pallbearers are his nephews, Dwayne Mauck, Dale Mauck, Robbie Smith, Tony Smith, Chris Smith, Ronnie Madagan, Jim Musser, John Musser, David Musser, Chuck Madagan, Teddy Franklin, Roy Skeeter Reed, and John Madagan Jr. Additional Honorary Pallbearers include Felicia Fix, Sandy Franklin, David Toothman, Bill Hammack, and the Warren County High School Class of 1955.
We are most appreciative of the individual care given to our father by Felicia Fix and Sandy Franklin. We are also grateful for all the caregivers associated with Blue Ridge Hospice and the assistance of Gina Athey near the end of his life.
In recognition of the devotion of our father and mother to educating their children, their grandchildren, and the children of countless others, we ask that in lieu of flowers that donations in their honor be sent to the Athey Memorial Scholarship Fund which awards an annual scholarship to Lord Fairfax Community College to a graduating Senior from Warren County High School. Donations may be sent to Athey Memorial Scholarship Fund, 1020 Wine Street, Front Royal, Virginia.
As a result of the covid pandemic, funeral services are private but for those who would like to pay their respects, you may do so at Maddox Funeral Home from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00p.m. on Saturday January 23, 2021.
Arrangements are being handled by Maddox Funeral Home, Front Royal, Virginia.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.maddoxfuneralhome.com