Cover photo for The Rev. Herschel Robert Atkinson's Obituary
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The Rev. Herschel Robert Atkinson

November 1, 1925 — August 20, 2021

The Rev. Herschel Robert Atkinson

The Reverend Herschel Robert Atkinson, age 95, son of Earnest B. Malott and Mary F. Atkinson, departed this life at his home in Elberton, Georgia, on Friday, August 20, 2021. He was born November 1, 1925, in Lebanon, Ohio. He was raised by his single mother, who worked as a laundress. In the fall of 1943, he enrolled as a chemical engineering student at Ohio State University, where he was a member of the Ohio State University marching band. During his freshman year, he joined the U.S. Army on February 27, 1944, and served in the 16th Armored Division, Tank Battalion of the Third United States Army in the European Theater of Operations, where his 16th AD liberated Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. After VE Day, he remained in Germany as part of the Allied Occupation Forces and was stationed in Berlin. Here he met and soon married Margot Krueger, who worked at the 16th AD base Chaplain's Office. During his time in Germany, he was transferred to military intelligence. He eventually earned the rank of Captain, then Major, but was discharged from the post-WWII Army due to a RIF (Reduction in Force). He rejoined as a Sergeant, attained the rank of Sergeant Major, and served two tours in Korea. During his military career, he received the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal.

Retiring from the U.S. Army in 1966 while stationed in Georgia, he felt called to become an Episcopal priest and attended the Sewanee School of Theology at the University of the South in Tennessee. In the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, the Reverend Atkinson was ordained a deacon May 1970 and ordained a priest on January 31, 1971. His first ministry was at the Church of Our Saviour in the Virginia-Highland area of Atlanta. In 1970, he became the rector of two "yoked" Episcopal parishes in Georgia, St. Andrew's in Hartwell and St. Alban's in adjacent Elberton, where he remained until retiring on November 1, 1997.

The Reverend Atkinson was a scholar of Episcopal Canon Law and served on the Committee for Constitution and Canons, where he was instrumental in the liturgical design of diocesan worship. He was a member of the highest legislative body of the national Episcopal Church, the House of Deputies, during its triennial Episcopal General Conventions. He served for 28 years as the Secretary of Council of the Diocese of Atlanta, following the Right Reverend Frank Kellogg Allan's installation as the 8th Bishop of Atlanta, and continued in that capacity for the 9th Bishop of Atlanta, the Right Reverend J. Neil Alexander, and for the current 10th Bishop of Atlanta, the Right Reverend Robert Christopher Wright. At the Reverend Atkinson's retirement as Secretary of Council in 2017, the Diocese of Atlanta created a scholarship in his name at the Sewanee School of Theology at the University of the South.

After retiring as a full-time rector, the Reverend Atkinson twice served as an interim rector: first at Church of the Resurrection in Greenwood, South Carolina, then at St. Stephen's in Milledgeville, Georgia. He also served as a "supply priest" for various parishes, filling in when a rector was on vacation, on sabbatical, or otherwise unavailable.

Privately the Reverend Atkinson was a connoisseur of fine food, especially involving skilled preparation of gourmet meals. He enjoyed using Facebook to stay in touch with his friends in the States and from myriad countries. His avocations were classical music, reading the Army Times, watching British television, and his cats.

The Reverend Atkinson was preceded in death by his wife Margot Atkinson, his dear friend Marcia Jenkins, and many beloved cats. He is survived by Margot Atkinson's goddaughters, Marjorie Jenkins Moon of Elberton, Georgia, and Claudia Rudnick of Berlin, Germany; his godson Charles James (Jim) Jenkins II of Gwinnett County, Georgia; his godson Stephen Smith of Brunswick, Georgia; and his beloved cat, Oliver.

The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright will be the Celebrant at the Reverend Herschel Robert Atkinson's Requiem Mass at the Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30305 on Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 2:00 pm.

Interment of The Reverend Herschel Robert Atkinson's cremated remains will take place at Arlington National Cemetery, where the burial liturgy will be led by Chaplain (Colonel-USA Ret) Wesley Smith.

The Reverend Atkinson requested that no flowers be sent for the funeral. It was his wish that any contributions in lieu of flowers be made in his name and be sent to: The Reverend Herschel Robert Atkinson Scholarship Fund, School of Theology, The University of the South, 335 Tennessee Avenue, Sewanee, TN 37383.

Arrangements are in the care of Berry Funeral Home in Elberton, Georgia, and further information may be obtained by contacting them at 706-283-5142.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of The Rev. Herschel Robert Atkinson, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Saturday, September 18, 2021

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

The Cathedral of St. Philip

2744 Peachtree Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30305

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Arlington National Cemetery

103 Landsdown, Williamsburg, VA 23188

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