John Atkins of rural Urbana, longtime owner of the Richeson-Wickham & Atkins Funeral Home in St. Paris, now the Atkins-Shively Funeral Home, received his 50-year membership award at the Ohio Funeral Directors Association’s annual convention in Columbus earlier this month.
Atkins apprenticed 1966-67 with the Jackson Lytle Coffman Funeral Home in Springfield.
After becoming licensed as a funeral director and embalmer in 1967, he joined the Richeson-Wickham Funeral Home, St. Paris. In 1974, he and his wife, Sandra, purchased the business and changed the name to the Richeson-Wickham & Atkins Funeral Home.
In 2005, Roxanne and Bart Shively purchased the business, now known as the Atkins-Shively Funeral Home.
A volunteer with the Johnson St. Paris Fire District since 1967, Atkins retired in 2011 after serving the last 12 years as assistant fire chief.
“I enjoy retirement,” he said. Although not working full time, he stays busy, working part time at the Kaffenbarger Truck Equipment Company in New Carlisle and volunteering.
He’s been on the Champaign County Health District board about 15 years and in 2008 joined the Ohio Mortuary Operations Response Team, a state team whose main function is to respond to mass casualty situations to set up areas where victims can be identified.
He also volunteers with Dayton Children’s Hospital and recently toured the hospital’s new facility. His job partly will be directing people to their destinations in the eight-story structure.
Active in one national and several state antique fire apparatus associations, Atkins and his restored aerial ladder truck will head to an event in Ontario, Canada, in September.
The Atkinses celebrated their 50th anniversary Dec. 16, 2016. They have three children: Melissa (Jason) Miller of Urbana; Beth (Chuck) Koplinski of Urbana, Illinois; and Clay (Megan Middleton) of St. Paris. They have six grandchildren and three step grandchildren.
Kathy Fox can be reached at 937-652-1331, ext. 1773.