OBITUARY

Thomas Edward Atkins

Passed away on July 22, 2020

Thomas E. (“Tom”) Atkins III passed away Wednesday, July 22, 2020 at the age of 86. Born December 24, 1933 to Thomas Edward Atkins, Jr (“Country Atkins”) and Ruby Schuermann Atkins, Tom was a life-long Columbia and Boone County resident, graduating from Hickman High School in 1952 as senior class president. Tom graduated from the University of Missouri in 1956, the same year he married Linda Lou Holman. Tom met Linda in kindergarten and began dating her in 9th grade. She was the love of his life. While in college, Tom worked at the Stein Club in downtown Columbia, a popular local bar owned by Tom’s father, Country Atkins. After serving in the US Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Tom partnered with his uncle, Mac McCauley to work in the family business. Founded in 1925 by Tom’s grandparents, T. E. Atkins, Sr and his wife, Elsie, the company would grow and thrive to later to become known as Atkins Building Services and Products, Inc.

Tom led a long and influential life in Columbia and Boone County and was considered a pillar of this community. He was a former President of the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri and former Chair of the Board of Trustees of Columbia College, from which he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters. Tom was a member of Phi Delta Theta, a Faurot Fellow, recipient of the Faculty-Alumni Award and Distinguished Service Award from the University of Missouri, a lifetime member of the Missouri Alumni Association, and a long time member of the “Round Table” lunch group.

Tom was a firm believer in “paying it forward” and the impacts of his philanthropy and charitable work are far-reaching. Tom served as a founding member of the DeToqueville Society of United Way, served as Co-Chair for the establishment of the Ellis Fischel Cancer Hospital Advisory Board, and led the effort to establish a wellness program for the University of Missouri System. Tom and his family donated 80 acres to the City of Columbia and Boone County to build the Country Atkins Park and provided the lead gift to build the Atkins-Holman Student Commons Building at Columbia College. Tom’s most recent philanthropic passion was the University of Missouri’s Next Gen center, a multi-disciplinary approach to research in human health that will benefit Missourians for generations to come. Tom and his family also have a long history as generous supporters of many local non-profit organizations.

An entrepreneur and businessman, Tom and his son, Scott, led the way for downtown Columbia revitalization by spearheading historic remodeling of downtown buildings, including the old Strollway Center – now Atkins City Centre – along with 4 other historic downtown properties. Tom served as President of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, served as President of the United Way-Columbia and was a founding member of Regional Economic Development Inc. (REDI). Possessed of an easy sense of humor, Tom was able to see the light side of most things. Twenty years ago, a visitor to Tom’s office referred to Tom as “The Old Guy in the Corner Office”. Tom condensed that to OGITCO, adopted it as a nickname and used it the rest of his life.

Tom is survived by his wife of 63 years, Linda Holman Atkins, his daughter Mindy Atkins Wickersham and husband Andy Wickersham of Kansas City, his son Scott Atkins and wife Fran Mehrle Atkins of Columbia, and grandchildren, Thomas I (“TI”) Atkins and wife Avery, Andrew F. (“Drew”) Atkins, Paul M. Atkins, Jake A. Wickersham, Chloe Rose Wickersham, niece Meredith Meyers, and nephew, Gary Meyers. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Marcelle Meyers, and May and Raymond Holman, mother and father in-laws.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, funeral services will be limited to family only. In memoriam donations may be made to NextGen c/o Mun Choi, Chancellor’s Office, 105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211.

Services

No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.

Memories

Thomas Edward Atkins

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Curt Krebsbach

August 5, 2020

My sincere condolences to the Atkins family. Tom was a genuine people person and cared about others. I know he will be missed by each of you as well as by so many people in Mid-Missouri.

Laura Gajda

July 31, 2020

I worked with Mr. Tom Atkins when I was Executive Director of MU Health Advancement 2008-2015. I met with him often with the CEO of MU Health Jim Ross.

Tom Atkins was one of those rare individuals that want to improve society in every way. He acted locally, supporting grassroots efforts like Everybody Eats, started by Almeta Creighton, to far reaching care and research at MU Healthcare.

I am now VP of Development,fundraising for a hospital in NYC, but miss many friends and colleagues at MU Health Care.

My deepest sympathy to the family.

Laura Gajda

Bill and Margie Tyler

July 31, 2020

Fraternity brother and cherished friend. Tom was and always will be "Mr. Columbia." His commitment to Mizzou and to the city was quietly monumental. The flag at half staff and the solemn ringing of the bell were more than symbolic. They served as a well deserved tribute to a citizen who will not be forgotten. Bless you Tom. Your life was so meaningful to so many.

Brian Carl

July 31, 2020

The year was 2008, and I was attending a fundraiser at the home of Dave & Jackie Baugher with my mother and sister. Suddenly, my mom exclaimed, "There's Tom Atkins!" I turned toward a delightful-looking gentleman I'd never met and said, "Finally, I get to meet Tommy Atkins!" He just beamed.

Seemingly forever, I'd heard tales from my mom, Beverly Barnett Carl, about life in Columbia in the late '40s and early '50s. Most were about Hickman High, and the wonderful and vivid characters who populated the school. Playing a leading role in those stories was Tommy Atkins. Clearly, this guy was something special. That afternoon at the Baugher's was such a great time; Tom, my mom, my sister Jann, and I talked and talked.

Over the next several years, when I visited Columbia, I had the good fortune to spend some time with Tom. Once it was over lunch at Sycamore, and another time I actually stood in the famous corner office. Tom was always warm, engaging, and possessed an informed point of view. I felt privileged.

Although he might have resisted this label, Tom was undoubtedly a giant in Columbia history. What many of us aspire to do, he actually did - his influence made the world a better place.

I will miss him greatly.

Brian Carl

Beverly Carl

July 29, 2020

I met Tom in the 7th grade, at Jefferson Junior High. I somehow knew - even then - that he was different. He always had some kind of plan, a curiosity, and an abundance of energy. Even as a kid he was a businessman - he was a paperboy for the Tribune. These qualities followed him to Hickman High School, where he cut a wide swath: Verse Choir (including president), student council, and National Honor Society. Little did we know then he was just warming up! As outlined in his obituary, Tom was one of the most accomplished, impactful, well-respected, and warmly generous leaders in Columbia history. But throughout his life, when he talked with fellow Kewpies at Dickey's Barbecue or at one of many Class of '52 reunions, he repeatedly told us the one thing he was most proud of was serving as senior class president.

Regardless of his notoriety, Tom was always kind and friendly. We knew that he was irreplaceable as a civic leader; we also knew he was irreplaceable as a friend.

Tom had a life well-lived, a life well-loved, a life beautifully shared. I will be forever grateful that I knew him.

Beverly Barnett Carl, a classmate
Hickman High, Class of '52

Jacqueline Kelly

July 28, 2020

I am deeply saddened by the passing of former curator, Tom Atkins. He was warm, caring, genuine, approachable and always had a smile. My husband and I started using the services of Tom's company many years ago because of his values and personal qualities. I have pleasant memories of Tom when he served on the board of curators at the university. I am grateful to have known him and saddened by his passing.

Robin Cadwell

July 27, 2020

I was so sad to see in the paper that Tom had passed away. I worked many years at Columbia Photo and whenever Tom came in, he always had a smile, a "hello" and a friendly comment for you. He made you feel like a valued employee. My deepest condolences to Linda and all his family on this sad personal loss. It is also a sad loss for Columbia as a whole. He was a very sincere and valued community leader and will be missed.
Sincerely,
Robin Cadwell

Mike Strong

July 26, 2020

What a pillar to the community and will be missed by many. You always such a joy to talk to you. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family. Columbia has lost a true treasure.

Bea Smith

July 26, 2020

Dear Linda and Family,

There are so many good memories to be shared about our dear friend Tom. He has left an indelible legacy as a businessman and community citizen. My acquaintance with Tom goes back to the early 1980’s when we both served on Columbia’s United Way board. I followed in Tom’s footsteps as community campaign chair and then president of the board. My apprenticeship year as his campaign co-chair was kicked off with much hoopla at a community rally. “Annie” was a hit musical on Broadway and Tom and I “starred” in a riff on it that culminated with the announcement of the campaign goal, Tom appropriately and masterfully playing Daddy Warbucks while I, bedecked in an orange fright wig, was Little Orphan Annie. That campaign was a financial success, but what I remember most was Tom’s personalized commitment to the work of the agencies. He organized tours that took the campaign cabinet behind the scenes where we saw the difficult and dedicated work that was making a quiet contribution to so many in our community. Later in that decade, he brought that same enlightened leadership to the University of Missouri, with his service as a Curator culminating in his effective presidency of the Board of Curators. He deeply cared about the University and the Columbia community and was a role model for many of us. My heartfelt condolences.

Sincerely,
Bea Smith

MARGARET WULFF

July 26, 2020

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