Kenward L Atkin

March 12, 1914December 27, 2010

Dr. Kenward L. Atkin passed away peacefully on December 27, 2010 in East Lansing MI, after living a long and full life of almost 92 years. Ken was happily married for 61 years to the lovely Jane Follis Atkin, who preceded him in death in December 2005. Together, they made their home in a rich variety of locales: Washington DC, Sault Ste. Marie, Ann Arbor, Birmingham, East Lansing, Los Angeles, and Dallas, followed by retirement in Cape Coral FL in the winter and Cedarville MI in the summer where Ken and Jane could share long walks on sunny beaches and forest trails. He also enjoyed playing golf and feeding birds, ducks, and deer.

Ken was a son of the Upper Peninsula, born in Houghton and raised in the Soo; he continued visiting the UP every summer for decades after escaping the blustery winter weather. His parents were Charles and Ella Atkin, and he was close to his late sister Virginia Whitmore of Los Angeles. During World War II, he was an Army Captain in northern Africa and Italy campaigns. He spent 10 years in business executive positions before joining the faculty at Michigan State University.

As a Professor and later Chairman of MSU’s nationally acclaimed Department of Advertising, Ken influenced and inspired two generations of Advertising students. He was proud to be elected as President of the American Academy of Advertising. In addition, he helped build the Department of Communication at California State University Fullerton into one of the largest communication schools in the country, and was Dean of Communication Arts at Southern Methodist University. Ken’s BA and MBA degrees were earned at University of Michigan, and he received the first PhD in Communication at MSU while teaching a full load of Advertising courses. Three of his children followed his footsteps as college professors.

Ken’s memory will be treasured by sons Charles (Sandi) of East Lansing, Thomas of Rohnert Park, CA, and David (Carolyn) of Storrs, CT, and daughter Penelope of Lansing. He was very fond of his grandchildren Daniel (Robin) Atkin, Deborah (Randall) Hopp, Arthur Atkin, and Annabelle Atkin, and great-grandsons Alex and Evan Hopp, and Tyler and Bodie Atkin. A private memorial service is scheduled in July 2011. The family is being served by Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, East Lansing. On line condolences may be made at


Kenward L Atkin

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January 6, 2011

Dear Family of Ken Atkin:

I send my heartfelt sympathy on the passing of your father, grandfather or great-grandfather, as the case may be. I knew him as a colleague and friend since August,1966. In the late 1960s and early 1970s we worked together closely to build the MSU Department of Advertising from humble beginnings into the highly respected Department that it later became. He was the first Ph.D. in the Department and I was the second. A few years after I joined MSU he became Department Chairman, and when he left MSU to go to California in June,1974 I followed in his footsteps in that position. My fondest memories of working with him are about our mutual objectives to improve the quality of our academic programs, build the MA programs, initiate and participate in the Ph.D. Program in Mass Media, internationalize the Department, hire competent young faculty and stimulate them to do cutting edge scholarly research--publish or perish, and obtain industry support for numerous projects. He made a difference in the lives of many students and faculty members and will be fondly remembered by all who knew him.

Gordon Miracle