Barbara Janice Atkinson
Barbara Atkinson, beloved mother, grandmother, sister, and friend left this world on Wednesday, January 1, 2020, with her family by her side.
She was born on June 15th, 1944 in Amarillo, TX to George Henry Atkinson Jr. and Dorothy Virginia Rader. She grew up in Lake Charles, LA and went to La Grange High School, and then moved to Houston her senior year and was in the first graduating class of Westbury High School in 1962. She studied journalism at the University of Houston. She married and lived in New Orleans, Louisiana before returning to Texas.
She was truly a renaissance woman… a seeker, writer, poet, business owner, seamstress, comedienne, formidable board game opponent, lover of fine dining and taking trips with her family, Mardi Gras enthusiast, friend to animals, children, and people from all walks of life.
She started and helped with many family businesses throughout the years, including Passport Enterprises (a costume and uniform company), and Liaison Personnel with her mother. She also was the main encourager and administrator of the Beresford School, a private school she ran with her daughter for 13 years after she retired. She was a stellar grant writer and administrator at MD Anderson for 14 years. Throughout her life, she made life more pleasant for her co-workers and customers by her calm and loving demeanor.
She helped initiate the Deck the Halls Parade in 1998, which continues to this day as a multicultural holiday parade that strengthens community spirit, celebrates diversity, and collects toys for economically disadvantaged children. She worked on all aspects of the parade but is most known for the great joy she brought so many by sewing beautiful costumes each year relating to the theme for the participants. She also helped the family start the Meyerland Candy Crawl, an initiative to offer a safe and fun Halloween experience for children of all ages and abilities. She would ride the golf cart with her daughter and thank all of the spectators for coming to the parade, and she sat on the porch and refilled bowl after bowl of candy, waving to the trick-or-treaters. She supported anything and everything her daughter and granddaughters did with wholehearted enthusiasm.
Most of all, she adored her family. She lived with her daughter, son-in-law, and 3 granddaughters for the past 20 years, and contributed enormous love and support to their daily lives. Whether greeting everyone enthusiastically every time they arrived home, to sewing clothes, editing papers, staying up til the wee hours watching movies, or playing with the family bird, Sugar Ann, Barbara was a constant source of happiness for everyone.
She was a delightful friend, who spent hours listening to the problems of others, offering guidance, discussing the meaning of life, and supporting things important to them. She never judged a soul, and accepted others wholeheartedly.
Perhaps her greatest quality was her unconditional love and gentle spirit. She taught us all how to love, forgive, never hold a grudge or find faults in others, but rather to accept others where they are and celebrate their distinct personalities.
She will be lovingly remembered by her daughter Ember Mandell and son-in-law David; grandchildren Noelle, Lyric, Sonnet, and Sable; brother George Henry Atkinson III and wife Trina; nephew John David Atkinson, wife Lauren and children Zoe and Zara; father George Henry Atkinson Jr; great-niece Rachel Roy; and extended family.
A service will be held to celebrate her life on Saturday, January 11th at 2PM at First Christian Church on Sunset Blvd in Houston, Texas 77005. Immediately following the service, the New Orleans Hustlers Brass Band will break into a thunderous second line to celebrate the life of our dearest Barbara, and conclude with eating her favorite meal of gumbo and ice tea.