The only thing that keeps a man going is energy, and what is energy but liking life?
About Gary (August 18, 1955 - December 21, 1988 )
Gary was a:
- Son to William, Jr. and Martha
- Brother to John and David
- Husband to Judy.
After graduating from Ledyard High, Gary went to Washington University where he was honored with a four-year Engineering fellowship. Graduating with honors in civil engineering, he did his graduate work in construction management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his father’s alma mater.
He worked in Boston for the Beacon Companies on such notable projects as the Meridien hotel, One Post Office Square, and the Boston Harbor Hotel. He married Judy in May of 88 and they lived and worked in London. Gary was a Project Executive at Olympia & York for the Canary Wharf Complex there. They were returning to the states to visit relatives in Connecticut when they were killed in the bombing of PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Described by his family as a “born leader”, as a youth Gary was involved in scouting, student council, and school stage productions. He was voted by his classmates as Most Likely to Succeed, Most Intellectual, and Contributed Most to Ledyard High School. He gave the valedictory address at his graduation. As an adult, he participated avidly in sailing, skiing, and cycling. Gary was interested in everything, and in his zest for life belonged to the Fine Arts Museum, attended Boston Symphony concerts, and traveled to Europe, Japan, and throughout the United States.
Thinking back, I consider Gary as the self-assured, erudite river boat captain, the guy who piloted his present life course with all deliberate care, but always planning that reach-for-the-stars excursion down the Nile River. Yet, he could take on passengers and treat them all with due respect and kindness, and with a willingness to help them with their own dreams.
I remember the “Me and My Shadow” routine he and I practiced for the Senior Troop 3192 & Explorer Post 45 variety show. Clearly, neither of us were sure footed hoofers, but as we worked on the routine, he was precise with his steps. He always seemed to plan everything well ahead.
An example I remember regarding his detail oriented nature was his miniature wargame model of a Civil War battle. I don’t recall which battles he was working, but he seemed to be trying to follow the actual historical steps using a scale model. An even better example was the plan he devised, with the aid of Mr. Sanford, to make it to the 13th World Jamboree in Japan in 1971.
Jim Neil described this in his discussion with John Dunham in the video on the LHS blog. It was relatively masterful in that it involved reviving Explorer Post 45 as a means for our merry band of older Boy Scouts to get approval by the BSA to join the jamboree.
I’m sure a number of my fellow classmates can expound upon stories of how Gary helped them in their respective Ledyard journeys. I know Gary provided some important aids in my steps to achieve Eagle Scout, which in turn provided a box checked in my application to medical school. I was hardly physically adept, but he helped me improve my side stroke swimming technique. This allowed me to complete a one-mile swim (performed in his pool) and provided the remaining requirement for my swimming merit badge. Gary was most definitely one of a kind, a fellow with a clear vision for his life and one who was perfectly willing to help others along the way.
The Notorious WGA
Contributed by Edward Neely
Gary's fellow LHS '73 classmate and Eagle Scout
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100% of donations go to the Gary Atkinson Imagine Scholarship Fund, supporting graduating LHS seniors selected based on who most embodies LHS '73 Valedictorian, Gary Atkinson's virtues .