Donald Harvey Atkinson
Donald Harvey Atkinson, long-time Ventura resident, loving husband of 70 years and father of four made his transition at age 99, on Friday, November 22, surrounded by family and friends. His death was due to an injury sustained by a fall. Don was born on June 27, 1914 in Maricopa, California, the first child of Samuel G. Atkinson and Myra Atkinson, nee Austin. Sam Atkinson had come to Los Angeles to work in the oil fields before he was hired to supervise the building of derricks and drilling operations on a lease in Maricopa. Don grew up in the decade after the Lakeview Gusher which transformed Maricopa into a boom town. Don moved to Ventura County with his mother and sister Barbara in 1927, and graduated from Ventura High School in 1932. Mechanically inclined and in need of transportation, Don learned how to repair the old cars he purchased. Coincidentally, his first jobs after high school were working at different auto garages, and a tractor repair shop, in both Ventura and Santa Paula. During the years before World War II, Don pursued his life's twin passions. The first was Bertha Marie Easton whom he married in her parent's home in February 1937. The other was flying, a skill he learned by attending flight school at Oxnard Airport. Flying became Don's business when, at the onset of war, he was hired as a flight instructor by the Mira Loma Flight Academy which had been contracted by the U.S. Army Air Corp to provide new cadets with their primary training. At war's end, Don and business partner Ed Heck opened Ventura County Flyers, a flying school, charter flight service and dealer of Stinson and Aeronca aircraft. In 1950 Don was offered the position of Superintendent of Transportation for the County of Ventura. In this capacity he was charged with purchasing and maintaining the fleet of automobiles used by County employees. The County Garage at 34 N. Palm St, now part of Ventura's Historic Landmark District, served as Don's work place until his retirement in 1976. His achievements included serving as President of the Ventura High School's PTA and his role in founding the Ventura County Credit Union. Don embraced his retirement by keeping busy with property management and traveling with Bertha throughout the United States and Mexico. Bertha passed away in August 2007, as did his oldest son, Thomas Arlen Atkinson (Thelma), this past September 2013. Don is survived by sons, John Steven Atkinson (Diane) and Donald Scott Atkinson (Jayne); daughter, Laurie Atkinson Sinklier (Scott); seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Also at his bedside was beloved friend, Evelyn Hensley. Respected for his integrity throughout his long-life, Don will also be fondly remembered for the warmth of his charm and impeccable dress. The memory of his quiet strength, wisdom, love and generosity, which he bestowed upon us as the family patriarch, will be deeply cherished.