Richard Atkinson


Richard Curtis Atkinson, 83, of Dowagiac, MI, passed away on Monday, March 25, 2024.

Richard was born on August 26, 1940, in Dubuque, Iowa, to Burton and Virginia (Rittenhouse) Atkinson. He graduated from Dubuque High School in 1958 and moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, with his family in the early 1960s, where he worked as a cabinet maker.

Richard met his future wife, Audrey Bruce, at the 1963 Calgary Stampede. A few months later, Richard received his United States Army draft notice. As a resident of Canada at the time, Richard had to leave Audrey behind and return to the U.S.

Richard was drafted in October 1963 and completed his basic training in Fort Gordon, Georgia, before returning to Calgary to marry Audrey on December 28, 1963. He completed his military training as a radio operator at the rank of Specialist 4 (SPC 4). Audrey joined Richard in Georgia, traveling alone across North America in her 1959 Austin-Healey Sprite convertible.

On April 13, 1964, Richard departed for his overseas posting in Nuremberg, Germany, and Audrey soon followed. Richard and Audrey gave birth to twins Krista Lynn and Karen Lea in Nuremberg.

Richard completed his overseas service on October 7, 1965, and moved to Dowagiac, Michigan, where his parents now resided. Richard took a position at Jessup Door Company unloading box cars. The couple welcomed a son, Robert.

Richard moved up the ranks at Jessup Door to become company president in the early 1980s.

Richard’s family became complete in 1982 when the Atkinson family opened their doors to an exchange student, Anne Storrosten, from Tylldalen, Norway. She has remained a fixture in the Atkinson family for the last four decades.

After leaving Jessup Door Company in 1982, Richard became co-owner of Sander’s Sawmill in South Bend, Indiana. In the early 2000s, he sold the sawmill and retired to be a gentleman farmer.

Richard spent his life hunting, trapping, and fishing. He was a longtime member of the Dowagiac Conservation Club, where he served as a hunter’s safety instructor. He became a mentor to many young hunters.

Richard enjoyed sharing his love of the outdoors and hunting with younger generations. He founded the Dowagiac Conservation Club’s annual Hunter’s Rendezvous and was its lead organizer for 25 years before stepping down.

In addition to hunting and conservation, Richard was an avid reader. He was interested in history and amassed a sizable collection of history-related books.

Richard is survived by his wife of 60 years, Audrey, and his three children, Krista (Alan) Smith, Karen (Paul) Harris, and Robert (Lisa Harbin) Atkinson, and his bonus daughter, Anne Storrosten of Norway. He is also survived by his seven beautiful granddaughters, Lauren (James) Flory, Katie (Matt) Barnett, Haley (Matt Lowe) Smith, Abbie (Tanner Sinclair) Harris, Kelsey (Connor) Wright, Mollie Harris, Libbie Harris, and five great-grandchildren, Maddie Flory, JJ Flory, Sam Barnett, Ellie Barnett, and Colson Sinclair. Richard is also survived by his siblings, Beverly (Mike) Gotmy, Thomas (Susan Dobrich) Atkinson, and Barbara (Craig) Runyon.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Burton and Virginia Atkinson, and his brother-in-law, David Wilson.

A Celebration of Life Gathering will be held on Saturday, April 13, 2024, at the Dowagiac Conservation Club, 54551 M51 N, Dowagiac, MI from 2-5 PM. Military funeral honors and sharing of memories of Richard will begin at 4:00 PM. Memorial contributions may be directed to the Dowagiac Conservation Club. Arrangements were entrusted to Clark Chapel and Cremation Services – Starks Family Funeral Homes, 405 Center St, Dowagiac. Please visit Richard’s personalized webpage to share a memory or leave a condolence to his family at

Service Details


April 13th, 2024 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Dowagiac Conservation Club
54551 M-51 North
Dowagiac, MI 49047


April 13th, 2024 4:00pm
Dowagiac Conservation Club
54551 M-51 North
Dowagiac , MI 49047

Posted On: Wednesday, March 27, 2024 3:33 PM