Wilson L. Atkinson

February 2, 1933 - May 17, 2024

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Wilson Leroy Atkinson

February 02, 1933 – May 17, 2024

Celebration of Life

July 20, 2024 @ 2:00 p.m.

5325 SE Wallace Way

Milwaukie, OR  97267


Wilson Leroy (Lee or Roy) Atkinson was born on Thursday, February 2, 1933, to Walter Wilson and Nettie Virginia Atkinson in Kansas City, Missouri. He was preceded in death by his wife Joan Adrienne Hewitt and his siblings Raymond Lilly and Judy Wilson, and his sons-in-law Richard Jeffries and Terry Tanski.  He is survived by his sister Annette Hunt and children Joy Virginia Atkinson (David Shackelford), Erin Lee Tanski, and Rod Wilson Atkinson (Lisa Spenst Atkinson), Grandchildren Nicolle, Breeanna, Chris, Kyle, Taylor, Amber, Katie, and Rhys, and Great Grandchildren Gemma (Audrey), Dominick, Ryder, Jasen, Gage, Tyler and another baby boy on the way.

Dad’s family lived in Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas states mostly before moving to Oregon.  They were living in Independence, Missouri when in 1945 Harry S. Truman became President, and dad, a then 12-year-old boy was hired to mow the new President’s lawn.  Soon after, the Atkinson family moved to Oregon.

Dad went to Franklin High School and was from the class of 1950.  Our parents’ brothers and sisters were graduates of Franklin also. During high school he met and fell in love with his future wife, Joan Adrienne Hewitt, in 1948.  He loved music and played the piano. He also sang for many years with the Trinity United Methodist Church choir but couldn’t read a note of music.

Dad joined the Navy and was stationed in San Diego; Mom graduated from Franklin HS in May 1950 and turned 18 on August 30, 1950.  Mom went to California to visit Roy with a girlfriend, and on September 10, 1950, they borrowed Ray, Roy’s older brother’s car to go to a movie.  But in truth they went to Kingman, AZ and eloped. P. S. Dad would be eighteen on Feb 2, 1951. Dad had borrowed his friend’s shirt with stripes, so they did not question dad’s age. There was no honeymoon as dad was due back on ship and sent to sea; later stationed out of Sasabo, Japan.  During the California year’s I was to come along in 1953. The move back to Portland in 1956 led to 5 homes, 1 behind the 82nd drive in Theater, then to Sellwood a few houses from Oaks Park, then around 1958 to a two-bedroom home on 94th and Morrison.  My sister Erin came along in 1961 and brother Rod in 1964.  Thanksgiving weekend 1965 we moved to 38th and Ogden which mom and dad lived in 40 plus years. But Mom couldn’t do the stairs and a ranch style house was the answer.  Out to 176th between Division/Powell they moved.

When our parents moved back to Portland dad began work at the station and then for Meadowland Dairy as the milk man. While in the service dad got his GED equivalent and when back in Portland went to Reed College but unable to continue got a job with James Keep & Company and was an accountant for many service stations throughout Oregon.  In 1972 he got a job at Freightliner and ended his long career there as an industrial engineer at the truck plant.  He retired in 1991, when Dr. Zetsche was President and provided a very lucrative package for those who took early retirement.  Dad was 58.

Our parents did most things together, especially after they were both retired.  But through the year’s mom was the official fan and supporter beginning with Dad’s mush ball team, Church bowling team, and then 8 ball pool teams. Dad was Erin’s softball coach for 4.  And he was also involved with Rod in Indian Guides and Cub Scouts with many camping trips. Bowling, Pool, and Chess, dad was very skillful at these games and made sure all us kids knew how to play. When Erin and I turned 21 we also were on 8 ball pool teams, and I even played partners with dad at dad’s best friend Bob and Pati Reitenour’s bar The Rovon Inn. Another tradition that began with that is Friday night dinners and family board game nights.  Mom, Dad, and I continued dinners out and some card games until the last few months of her life.  That was almost 30 plus years of Friday night gatherings. All our childhood sport teams and musical/theatrical events at Duniway and Woodstock GS and Cleveland HS and mom and dad were there.   The next generation came including my Stepdaughter Nicolle’s plays and Erin and Rod kid’s sports events.

The list of charitable activities Mom and Dad supported were Meals on Wheels, food delivery to Janus to support the street kids in Portland and finally joining a Chapter of the Oregon Lions Club which opened up a whole new world in their lives, which included organ transports to the airport during early morning hours to trips to Mexico to assist in the delivery of 1000’s of donated glasses and help with the eye/hearing test right here in Portland.  The mobile unit has even been at my company Daimler Trucks North America (formerly Freightliner) with mom and dad in the thick of it.  Gee I wonder if I followed in BOTH their footsteps.  I worked with mom at U S Bank and with Dad at Freightliner.

Mom and Dad loved to travel a lot through the years.  During the lean years many family trips were spent at the Methodist Church Camp Magruder near Rockaway.  These trips began when the former Clinton Kelly Church members began this tradition from 1956 or so to November 5, 1995.  I remember that date as my sister Erin went into labor at the coast and my brother Rod rushed her home to meet Terry at the hospital to have Amber. Now Amber is to have her own baby boy in August. Rockaway was later replaced by many trips to Lincoln City as Great Grandchildren Audrey and Dominic lived there. Some of the places they frequented the most were Hawaii, Palm Springs, and Phoenix.  But many years were spent on the road in their 1966 Ford pick up with a camper on the back.  It was in cherry condition.  That vehicle went from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine and all along the East Coast and back through Route 66.  Canada was in the mix too.  But another vacation adventure that my cousin Marcy began through her travel agency via cruises began with the family and 4 generations to the Caribbean. I can’t remember the year, but Mom and Dad were hooked 7 or so cruises later that included Panama Canal, Western Riviera (Mexico), Caribbean again, Alaska, China, Japan, and South Korea.  They also went to Spain and London. In 2019, Dad with Edwina, us 3 kids and friends went on an Alaska cruise to celebrate mama who had been gone 10 years.

On July 7, 2009, mom was diagnosed with Lung Cancer and if it wasn’t for her cheerful spirit and upbeat attitude I don’t know if the rest of us would have been able to cope. With Dad by her side on Friday November 6th @ 6:26 a.m. mom left this world to be in a better place.

Dad continued to be involved with the Lions and he and Edwina Swart would become an item in 2010 and Dad moved in with Edwina and they would continue the Mexico Lion’s trips, attending Trinity United Methodist Church, and rooting their combined family grandkids in their sports and other events.   With health issues for them both, dad moved into the family compound in 2021. With 4 generations around and furballs in abundance he lived in his world of remembering time.

On May 3, 2024, dad fell. He was sure he was ok and just needed to rest, but on May 4th he was taken to the hospital and confirmed he broke his left hip. The surgery went well and on 7th he went to Oregon City Health and Rehab center.  All was going well the first few days, but then dad decided he was no longer hungry or thirsty and on May 13th Hospice was brought in. On the morning of May 17th at 5:55 a.m. Dad passed away at the age of 91. Dad would say that was a lucky number. So now us kids have a new set of keno numbers to play.


Donations in his memory to:

The Oral Hull Foundation (Lions)

P O Box 157

Sandy, OR  97055


Trinity United Methodist Church

3915 SE Steele

Portland, OR  97202

PayPal scroll to bottom of link:  https://seportlandparish.org


A private interment was held at Willamette National Cemetery on June 21, 2024.