Robert A. Atkins Sr., 90, Leavenworth, Kan., a Stevens Point native and retired colonel in the United States Army, died Saturday, June 21, 2014, at Twin Oaks Rehabilitation Center in Lansing, Kan., nine days after celebrating his 90th birthday and 16 days after his wife’s death.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 9:30 a.m. Monday, June 30, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Leavenworth, Kan., with the Revs. David McEvoy, O. Carm., and Bill McEvoy concelebrating. Burial with military honors will be in Leavenworth National Cemetery.
Visitation will be at Belden-Larkin Funeral Home in Lansing, Kan., from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday, June 29, with a rosary prayed at 6 p.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to Immaculate Conception – St. Joseph Parish or to the Heart of America Council, Boy Scouts of America.
Condolences may be offered online at www.beldenlarkin.com.
Col. Atkins was born June 12, 1924, in Stevens Point, the oldest son of Horace Compton Atkins and Agnes Joyce Eichinger. He attended the Central State Teachers College (CSTC) Elementary Teachers’ Training School and graduated from P.J. Jacobs High School in Stevens Point in 1941.
He attended CSTC (now the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for three semesters.
He volunteered for service in the U.S. Army Jan. 2, 1943. He graduated from the Engineer Officer Candidate Course at Fort Belvoir, Va., Oct. 31, 1944. He was inducted into the U.S. Army Engineer Officer Candidate School “Hall of Fame” May 1, 1970, at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
He served in the European Theater of Operations as a combat replacement and was a Bailey bridge construction specialist, supervising construction of key bridges throughout the American Occupation Zone and the Bremen Enclave until November 1947.
He participated in the amphibious landing at Inchon, Korea, and conceived and proposed the parachute drop of steel bridging that enabled the 1st Marine Division to extricate itself from Chosen Reservoir. He was awarded the Bronze Star while in Korea.
He retired from the Army Feb. 1, 1971, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., after 28 years of service.
He also earned numerous awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Good Conduct Medal with two clasps, American Theater Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one campaign star, World War II Victory Medal, Army Occupation Medal (Germany), National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with seven Campaign stars, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Korea), United Nations Service Medal, Army Reserve Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, two awards of the United States Presidential Unit Citation and the Vietnamese Technical Service Medal First Class. In February 2001, he was awarded the Korean War Service Medal by the president of South Korea in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Korean War.
After retirement from the Army, he was employed by the Kansas State Department of Corrections to serve in various capacities until December 1981, including five years as acting director or director of the institution.
Col. Atkins belonged to numerous organizations, among them the Boy Scouts of America, the Knights of Columbus, the Elks, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Reserve Officers Association, the American Correctional Association and the Kansas Correctional Association and the Friends of the Leavenworth Library.
He was a member of the Immaculate Conception – St. Joseph Catholic Parish and served for many years as lector, Eucharistic minister and song-leader commentator. He served several terms on the Pastoral Council and was the secretary of the Finance Council.
He served as president of the Parent-Teachers Organization, president of the Regional Pastoral Council, chairman of the Regional Finance Council and chairman of the Budget Preparation Committee of the Council. He served on the Catholic Committee on Scouting for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas for more than 30 years.
Col. Atkins was an adult Boy Scout volunteer leader from 1968 until the time of his death. He served five years as Cubmaster and 19 years as Scoutmaster. He served in several leadership capacities at the district level and was awarded the District Award of Merit, the Saint George Medal and the Silver Beaver Award, and was honored as a James E. West Fellow.
He was married to Eunice Ann Kraus Dec. 29, 1947, at Camp Campbell, Ky. She died June 5, 2014.
Survivors include five daughters, Carole Suzanne (Eddie Wong) Atkins, Honolulu, Hawaii, Sister Kathy Atkins, SCL, Kansas City, Kan., Debbie Reilly, Leavenworth, Kan., Sandy (Kenny) Wallace, Lynchburg, Va., and Nancy Fairchild, Litchfield Park, Ariz.; three sons, Robert Jr. (Jeana), Grand Junction, Colo., Michael (Mako Shimoda), Niwot, Colo., and Patrick (Denise), Lansing, Kan.; 26 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
He was also preceded in death his step-mother, Dorothy Packard Atkins; and three brothers, infant William, Horace Jr. and John Atkins.