Clarence Eugene "Gene" Atkins

April 23, 1928April 10, 2013


Reverend Gene Atkins, 84, Raytown, MO passed away Wednesday, April 10, 2013. A memorial service will be held at 2pm Monday, April 15, at Country Club United Methodist Church in Kansas City where he was an active member the last 22 years. Family visitation will be 4 to 6pm Sunday, April 14 at CCUMC. If you wish to make a memorial gift, the family suggests contributions to Country Club UMC, Blue Ridge Blvd UMC, or King’s Way UMC.

Gene was born near St. Joseph, MO on April 23, 1928, the only child of Harold and Opal Round Atkins. He graduated from Northeast High School in Kansas City, his youthful achievements having included Eagle Scout (Tribe of Mic-O-Say), Commandant of ROTC, and President of the Methodist Youth Council of the denomination’s South Central Jurisdiction. While attending the University of Kansas he was appointed to serve the Sugar Creek Methodist Church near Kansas City. After graduating with a BA in Speech & Drama from KU, he sought to explore his call to the ministry by enrolling at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. There he was inspired by Dr. Claude Thompson whom he followed to the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. While a student at SMU he served a rural three-point charge and as associate pastor at the 4,700-member Tyler Street Methodist Church. He also met and married a fine arts student, Sydney Ann Shumate, with whom he would share the next 62 years of life, love and ministry. After both graduated from SMU Gene enrolled at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. After receiving his Master of Theology he returned to Missouri where he was appointed to start a new congregation in Springfield. Beginning with 33 charter members, the King’s Way United Methodist Church became the focus of Gene’s ministry for the next 27 years - reaching over 1,400 members in 1981 when the denominational conference required Gene to move to its then largest church, Blue Ridge Blvd UMC in Kansas City where he served until retirement in 1990. In 1987 he was recognized with an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Central Methodist College, and the Blue Ridge Blvd congregation later established the Gene & Sydney Ann Atkins Hall of Sponsors Scholarship, also at CMC in his honor. Among his most meaningful and rewarding professional legacies are the numerous men and women who he mentored into the professional Christian ministry.

Gene also took great pleasure in service beyond the local church and in the community. Recognized by the Springfield Jaycees in 1963 as Young Man of the Year, he served as president of numerous civic organizations, municipal committees, social service agencies, charities and church-related organizations in Springfield and Kansas City and at the state and national levels. He was a life member of the alumni associations of the University of Kansas and Southern Methodist University.

A passionate teacher, he was a pioneer in the use of radio and television and was chosen to host a television series in the 1960s titled “Breakthru” produced by the UM Church in Nashville and released in the US and Canada. He was a scholar of Christian theology, Methodism and the history of many subjects - often delighting in the serendipity - or providence - evident in lives and events. A personal example was his own attendance at the two uniting conferences of the Methodist Church - as a boy in 1939 in Kansas City and in 1968 in Dallas.

A devoted and beloved son, husband, father, and grandfather, Gene’s capacity for undaunted optimism and for humor - corny, irreverent, irrepressible - in the midst of all the hills and valleys of life were defining characteristics. He took immense pride and joy in his children and grandchildren - who were also favorite subjects for his photography. His abilities as a handyman earned him the family moniker “The Fix-it Up Chappy” - a reference to a character in the Dr. Seuss story “The Sneetches” - which he once read in its entirety from the pulpit one Sunday morning.

He was blessed with robust physical health, a nimble mind, a generous spirit, and a loving heart all the days of his life. His sudden exit due to a brain aneurysm was merciful though shockingly painful for all who knew and loved him so dearly. Our comfort lies in that faith he proclaimed all his life and expressed in a sermon delivered just a few months ago: “…the secret to all power and gladness lies in 3 words “CHRIST IN ME” and that union with Christ is not something we have to achieve by effort, but something we have to accept by faith.”

He is survived by his wife, Sydney Ann Atkins, and by his sons and daughters-in-law, Daniel and Kimberly Atkins, Dallas, TX, and David and Emilie Atkins, Columbia, MO. He is survived also by his six grandchildren Sarah, Katie, Danny, Ben, Andy, and Jack.


  • Visitation Sunday, April 14, 2013
  • Memorial Service Monday, April 15, 2013

Clarence Eugene "Gene" Atkins

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Jack Selsor

December 4, 2013

I received a copy of the publication "cedar smoke" from the roe bartle scout reservation tribe of mic-o-say "their work is done" and was sadden to see the name of Clarence e Atkins. I was a classmate of Clarence at northeast high graduating in 1945. He was my superior ROTC. I was happy to see that he had a wonderful family and career with the ministry. I am also an Eagle Scout and life time member of the tribe of mic-o-say. The prayers of my family are with you. Jackselsor, Napa, Ca

April 21, 2013

Sydney Ann, Dan, David and family, We were so saddened to learn of Gene's passing. Our family joined King's Way a few years after it was begun. All of us benefited from the leadership and spiritual guidance with Gene as our pastor. He helped my family through a difficult time when my brother Gordon passed away. Gene,Sydney Ann and my parents, Margaret and Gordon went on a Wesley tour of England long after we left King' Way. Gene was truly a great man of God and I know the Angels are rejoicing to have him among them.
Please know that you are in our every thought and prayer.
The Allisons - Gordon, Margaret, Jane Allison Wight, and William (Oklahoma City, OK)

Tami Edwards

April 17, 2013

My family moved from Kansas City to Springfield in 1959 when I was twelve years old. We found King's Way where we joined the church and I enjoyed my years in MYF. I couldn't help but compare all future ministers to Gene as he was a wonderful preacher. Our oldest son passed away two weeks ago due to a blood clot lodging in his cerebral cortex. We know he and Gene are both in heaven and it comforts us that they will be together as we all will some day. I have been so fortunate to still have my Mom (92) and Dad (96), Bob and Jeanne Davidson, and my husband of 49 years, Garry Edwards and our youngest son Ty. I thank God for putting Gene in my life during my formative years. I share in your shock and grief and my thoughts and prayers are with you.

April 16, 2013

Sydney Ann, Dan, David and families,
I was saddened to learn of Gene's passing. He was terrific to me when I was on staff at Blue Ridge from 1987-1989. I learned a lot about being a pastor from him. I am sorry for your loss. Please know that I share your grief. God bless you in the days ahead. Rev. Jeannie Martin Webb

Julie Love Brown

April 15, 2013

Syndney Ann, Dan, David and family -
Tom and I were so sad to hear of your dad's unexpected death. I was a very blessed girl to have grown up under his pastor leadership and kind shepherding during my youth at King's Way UMC in Springfield, MO. It was with great joy that we were able to share our marriage vows with his guidance almost 35 years ago! He had one of the best smiles - I think that was definitely where he let Jesus shine on his face! Honestly, I can still hear his laugh and see that smile.
We are praying for comfort, overwhelming peace and wonderful memories to flood your mind and hearts during this time of grief.
Your are in our hearts and prayers.
Tom & Julie (Love) Brown
Tyler, Texas

Anne & Jeff Lamberti

April 15, 2013

Our condolences on the passing of Reverend Atkins. He married us at King's Way in 1998. It was so special because he married my parents at King's Way in 1970 and baptized me there in 1973. We will always remember the kind words of advice from him & Sydney Ann when we got married.

April 15, 2013

Sydney Ann,
Dad and I were heartbroken when we heard about Gene. You both have meant so much to us. We will be thinking of you, along with Dan and David and their families. We love you. Juli Bloomer & Jack Powers (Oklahoma City)

Nancy Jeffries Watson-Weir

April 15, 2013

I had the joy of growing up with Gene as my minister at Kingsway in Springfield. He put me through my confirmation at 13. I believe that his love of humanity is why I love humanity today. Thank you, Rev. Atkins, for representing the best of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Larry Folkins

April 15, 2013

I will always remember attending MYF camp at Mt.Sequoyah in Arkansas and becoming acquainted with Gene. That would have been in 1951. Then in 1956 I bought my first car from his father in Kansas City. In 1968 we moved to Springfield and joined Kingsway. We enjoyed being a part of the congregation and starting a young adult Sunday School class. I still have the letter Gene wrote me when the decision was made to move to JEfferson City, I appreciated so much his support and the encouragement he provided.
His ministry and committment is respected and valued by so many.
Thank you Sydney, for sharing him with us.
Larry and Georgeanne Folkins

margo armstrong

April 14, 2013

Dear Sydney Ann , David & Dan, Our heatfelt sympathy and deep sadness in Your sudden loss .Kingsway , this community and our family were touched in a thousand ways by Gene,s wisdom,,inspiration and spritual guidance . We share Your grief , but will forever be grateful for Gene,s amazing gift to us . With love , Margo& Bill Armstrong , Sonja and Janel