Arthur Ray Atkinson

Passed: November 08, 2015

Arthur Ray Atkinson

Passed: November 08, 2015


On November 8, 2015, Arthur Ray “Art” Atkinson, 88, left this life and moved on to a better one. Art was born February 20, 1927, in West Terre Haute, IN to Aaron Angus and Mary Hazel Shoaf Atkinson. Art was the second of five Atkinson children who included older brother Kenneth Allen and younger sisters Virginia “Francis” Wilson, Leanna “Faye” Snow, and Carolee Norris.

Raised on a dairy farm that also produced crops of soybeans and popcorn, Art’s mechanical abilities became apparent at a very early age. By the age of eight he was the repairman of the entire farm’s equipment and soon became the repairman for the surrounding farms as well.  Life on a farm was hardly exciting for a sixteen year old, so with WWII raging, Art left the farm and joined the US Navy.

Art’s original plan was to become a pilot, but problems with his health prevented that possibility, so Art was assigned to the engine room of a troop transport ship, the USS General H. W. Butner. The USS Butner, sailed the world taking Art to exotic ports-of-call and war zones in Africa, Australia, China, the Phillipines and many other nations and islands.  Her prime mission was to ferry troops from the US mainland throughout the Pacific.  When the allies proclaimed victory in the European front, they sailed through the Panama Canal to Le Havre, France where they picked up troops to bring them home.  Returning to the European theatre, they picked up troops in Marseilles to redeploy them in the Pacific.  As the USS Butner reached Okinawa, the crew and 5000 soldiers were held off-shore for 87 days.  During that time the ship ran out of food leaving only bread infested by weevils and maggots.   That experience caused Art to avoid eating raisin bread for the rest of his life.

Like other service men, Art often had to battle the elements in his line of duty. In the midst of a massive typhoon, as Art shuttled troops to the shore, he was thrown from the boat into the ice cold water.  He quickly grabbed onto the side of the boat, only finding a hold right on top of the engines and propellers.   Art’s tenacity kept him alive but years later he discovered that his heart had been damaged during this harrowing time.

When Art returned home he worked in the garage of the Chevrolet dealership. Soon he was hired by Visqueen to work in the maintenance department.  In 1955 he moved to Arizona and began working at the Naval Air Facility, Litchfield Park dismantling airplanes.  Several years later he worked for Motorola where he set up the manufacturing line.  While working nights for APS in Deer Valley, from 1962-65 he owned and operated Art’s Signal Service Station on the corner of 43rd and McDowell.  He finished his career after working 47 years for APS.

Art has been described as the smartest man you will ever meet. He was a mechanical genius who could fix anything – even repairing a commercial dishwasher with just a knife and a spoon when it broke during a fund-raising event.  He was always willing to repair anything that was needed and only asked for the cost of the parts and cold beer as payment.  Art loved old-time country music, square dancing and bowling.  He was active in the American Legion and the Moose Lodge.  He was a tough man when he needed to be, but was always the first to reach out to help others in need.  And the softest spot of his heart he saved for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Art is survived by his daughter, Mara Lissa Atkinson; his sons, Gary Ray, David Arthur, Dale Robert, and Donald Wayne; his partner Raye Marie Johnson and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.   He was preceded in death by his wives, Margaret Jane Fleener, Trini Beltran, Darlene Dawn Lokken; son Dennis Lee and daughter Dana Gayle Atkinson Vaughn Lane.

A viewing will be from 6:00 – 8:00 pm Thursday, November 12, 2015 at the Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S Litchfield Road, Goodyear, AZ. A Funeral Service will be 11:00 am, Friday, November 13, 2015 at the Thompson Funeral Chapel.  Interment will be at Sunwest Cemetery 12525 NW Grand Ave, El Mirage, AZ 85335.

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4 responses to Arthur Ray Atkinson

  1. My fondest memory was when you played with the grand children and great grand children. I know you will be a heavens gates waiting to welcome all of your friends and family home.

  2. Art was a wonderful, caring, helpful man. He will be greatly missed by family and friends.

  3. Coy Ross says:

    May you rest in peace.

  4. Dear Gary and Sunny,
    I am so sorry for your loss. I know that you will miss him greatly. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time and even later when the loss is not so new.
    With Love,

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