Robert Emerson Atkinson

February 15, 1943March 28, 2014
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Robert Emerson Atkinson, 71, slipped away from his earthly home in Wilmington to his eternal home in heaven at 7:10 am on March 28, 2014.

He was born on February 15, 1943 to the late Emerson Holmes Atkinson and Norein Carter Freeman. He is preceded in death by his son Gary Max Atkinson. Robert graduated from Topsail High School in 1962. He served with the US Navy on the USS Lake Champlain and was an Engineer with CSX Railroad for 31 years. He married his wife Sue on June 5, 1982 and they retired together in 2003.

His faith in God was exemplified in the way he lived his life. He was a faithful member of Grace Baptist Church and attended Rileys Creek Wednesday night service. He enjoyed spending time with both church families and few men were so lucky and privileged to enjoy such love.

He is survived by his wife, Sue Atkinson; brothers, Ike Puzon (Diann), and Frank Atkinson; sister, Jean McNeil (Bruce); son, Danny Atkinson (Mariea); daughters, Lisa Ellington, Teresa Nordan and Christine Gower; grandchildren, Mitchell Gower, Jason Gower, Alexandra Ellington, William Atkinson, Lauren Ellington and Adam Hammond; and our special angel, Tabitha Moore.

The family will receive friends Monday, March 31 from 1:00-2:00pm at Grace Baptist Church. A funeral service will follow at 2:00pm with Pastor J.D. Herchenhahn and Pastor Jay Knolls officiating. Burial will be at Oleander Memorial Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to Lower Cape Fear Hospice, 1406 Physicians Drive, Wilmington, NC 28401 and would like to extend a warm thank you to staff members Robin Funderberk and Deborah Gibson for the care and kindness they provided for our beloved Robert.

The staff of Coble Ward-Smith is honored to serve the family of Robert Emerson Atkinson.


  • Visitation Monday, March 31, 2014
  • Funeral Service Monday, March 31, 2014

Robert Emerson Atkinson

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January 13, 2015

Robert was Robert that the best way to describe him know one like him.Imiss him very much every day .Love you brother

June 27, 2014

Robert was my rock, without him I don't think I would ever have made it though the military. He wrote to me all the time (there was always a “stick figure” somewhere in every letter). He sent me a pet rock, stuffed animals and anything that would make me smile.
The thing I loved most about Robert was that he worshipped the ground my mother walked on, as she did him.
I love and miss you Robert, you will always be in my heart.
Teresa Nordan, daughter

June 27, 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014
Some of my fondest memories of Robert are watching him and Sid sitting under the tree discussing their childhood and young adult days. I often told Robert that his salvation is one of the greatest miracles.

I love and miss you
Joann Wroten

Mitchell Gower

June 27, 2014

In my early years, my Grandfather, Robert Atkinson, seemed Godly as he towered above me offering infinite wisdom. Not much of that would change in the following years of my life. I couldn't ask for a better role model; someone that is the epitome of what a loving, honest, family-man can be. His sense of humor and ability to make friends are luxuries a rich man can't buy. I am especially thankful to have Robert Atkinson as such a significant influence in my life.

Lisa Ellington

June 27, 2014

Daughter, Lisa

I believe there are a lot of things in life that a person has control of or influence over, but as life would have it, family is not one of them. And for that, I'm glad. I do not believe if I had the chance to choose who my mother would spend the better part of her life with; I would never have found a greater person than Robert Atkinson. He became a part of our family and looked after us girls as if we were his own. (However I am sure he had never expected to have to give up his bathroom rights, but even that would seem ok with him).
I am fortunate to have my birth father in my life, but he lives far away. A daughter would have struggled with that kind of separation, but when Robert came into our lives, even my dad knew that we girls would be looked after. No one would ever have protected and guided us the way he did.
Robert was such an influential part of my life that I will forever be blessed for having him as my step-dad. I knew that no matter what time of day or night, or if it was pouring rain or even snowing, if I needed help, he would be there. He gave me a sense of knowing that he would always be there for me, and he was.
From high-school graduation to my first job, from my wedding day to the birth of my children, he was by my side. He rejoiced in my good times, and held me in his arms during the bad times. He was forever present in the raising of my children... There is not a treasured moment in my life that he was not with me. He encouraged me in a way that it taught me to never give up. He taught me to never be judgmental of others, and to be grateful, and to enjoy family time together. But above all, he taught me to remain calm during those times of despair, because he knew that everything would work its way out and we would be okay.
Robert had a humorous side as well. He helped put smiles on our faces even when we had been crying only minutes earlier. I loved him for that.
He always let us know how much he loved us…and how very much he loved my mother. Not a day would go by that he didn't tell her how much he loved her, and how beautiful he thought she was. I knew that was a special love, and that it would only grow every day for the rest of their lives.

I thank you Lord, for Robert

Pam Brownley

June 27, 2014

Love and miss you, but I know you're up there looking down on us with your smile.

Fay McFatter

June 27, 2014

Love and miss you so much, you Wonderful Man. Love to family, I will see you soon.


June 26, 2014

Granddaughter, Lauren

There are two dates on a tombstone but all that's going to matter really is the “dash” that's in between because that's when granddaddy was busy living his life.
My granddaddy held a special place in my heart. There wasn't a time that he didn't put a smile on my face, and he could always make me laugh. He never wanted anyone to worry about anything. He would tell me to pray about it. My granddaddy took care of everything for me. When he gave me advice, it always changed the way I viewed difficulties. He was the life of the party and never met a stranger. Whenever he would go out with us, he always made my friends laugh at his jokes.
But the most important thing my granddaddy did for me was to lead me to my relationship with Christ. That is something that will affect me for the rest of my life.
Words cannot express the impact my granddaddy had on my life…………………………..

Lauren's Life Verse
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34


June 26, 2014

Since the day my mother brought me home from the hospital I have felt comfort and peace in my Granddaddy's arms.

His sense of humor and sweet jokes were shown until his final night here in his earthly home. He could make someone he had never met feel like they were part of the family. He was the kindest and strongest man I have ever known. His jokes warmed my heart and his hugs put me in a sweet tranquil place that brought happiness into my body from my head down to my toes. He could fix anything and loved helping others. He had the heart of a lion. He never thought negatively. He was always optimistic and making sure everyone in the family was happy and taken care of. His personality was one of a kind and his love of chocolate was known to all.

I believe his humor and love for chocolate rubbed off on me.
One of the things I miss on a daily basis is calling my grandparents house and having him pick up. He'd say “Hello?” And as excited as I was just to hear his voice I'd say “Hey Granddaddy!” He'd then reply “Hello Granddaughter”. And he'd say that every time I'd call him Granddaddy. He gave me memories that make every day of my life a blessing. I'll never forget Christmas with my Granddaddy. He'd wrap me up in wrapping paper and put a bow on my head. He always knew how to make me laugh. He forgave me for all my mistakes and taught me to laugh and smile through even the toughest of times. My Granddaddy never stopped believing in me.

He helped my mother through the absolute hardest time of her life and made my Grandmother the happiest woman on the planet. I've never seen love like he shared with my Grandmother. I pray that one day I am blessed with a man who can make me as happy and love me the way he loved my Grandmother. She was his everything. I've never in my life seen a man respect a woman the way he respected and cared for my Grandmother.
I miss his voice, his hugs and his jokes. I admired his outlook on life and I'm honored to have had him as my Granddaddy. I know my Granddaddy entered heaven peacefully and that one day we will be reunited again. He was there for me when I entered this world and he'll be waiting for me when it's time to jump right back in his arms again. I couldn't have asked for a better Granddaddy. He taught me how to be the most caring, kind hearted, well mannered, friendly and humorous person I could ever be. You will always be in my heart and mind Granddaddy. You influenced me more than you will ever know. I don't know where my family would be without your guidance, kindest and giving heart. You are missed dearly every second of the day. You will never be forgotten. We all know you are in a better place where we will all one day be together again. You were a man of wisdom, strength, humor and most importantly a man of God. Rest in peace my Angel. You were more than just a Granddaddy. You were the best things that could have ever happened to our family. I love you.


June 25, 2014

My Daddy Robert

Not a day goes by that I don't remember Robert and smile. He was a blessing to me in so many ways that I can't begin to explain. The one thing I remember even more than the laughs and jokes is the love. Robert‘s love was the purest I have ever known.

When I first met him, it was no secret; I would not allow myself to like him because I thought he was replacing my father. Well, he didn't replace my father, he didn't even try. Instead he became my Daddy Robert and loved me unconditionally. He welcomed me into his home because he had an extra room, a whole lot of patience and even more love to share. (And the Lord knows I needed them all.)
And for those of you that didn't know, my Daddy Robert opened his home to me before he and my mom even shared a home. That's the kind of man he was.

Daddy Robert was the first man to hold either of my sons. I will always remember not only the love that was in his eyes when he cradled each one in his arms on the day they were born but the feeling of love that rolled off of him in waves. It literally filled the room.

I can't even begin to thank Mom and Daddy Robert for what they did for my family when I moved away. But I will say it again—THANK YOU BOTH.
I do remember that when I wanted to come home but couldn't because my car was broke down, Daddy Robert got in his big ole black truck, drove to where I was, loaded me and my belongings into the truck and my car on a trailer and brought me home. He never judged me, he never questioned me. He just opened his arms and his home once again and made me remember that I was loved.

More than anything, I want to thank him. Thank him for always bringing me out of the dark and seeing me when no one else could.

I was asked a few months ago what part of the family I was from. “Sue's” or “Roberts” …… my response was “Both. We are a family.”

His Daughter