John T. Atkins
March 17, 1926 – March 15, 2019
John T. Atkins, of Genoa, NV, passed away peacefully surrounded by the love of his family just two days short of his 93 Birthday. John epitomized all the traits of the “greatest generation;” enduring the Great Depression, serving in World War II, and helping build the U.S. into an economic powerhouse. John lived a rich, full life; a man loved and respected by all the many people that he encountered.
John was born in La Junta, CO, first child to Hazel and Thomas Atkins. At the age of 10, John, his mother and father, and his sister Jean Ellen moved to Needles, CA where Thomas Atkins, who worked for the railroad, could seek better opportunities. During his youth, John spent many memorable summers in Kansas with his maternal grandmother Mary Jane Hennebergh, his Aunt Faye, Uncle Ralph, and six cousins. Upon graduating from high school, John joined the Navy, serving in the Pacific during WWII. Upon leaving the service, John applied for and was accepted, under the GI bill, to the University of Nevada, Mackay School of Mines, and married his high school sweetheart Iva Marie Porter. After graduation, he, Iva, and their two sons, John David, and Kenneth Brian, moved to Pioche, NV where John started his mining career as a mucker. Over the years, John’s mining career took him and his family to Henderson, NV; Riverton, WY; Cedar City, UT; Casper, WY; and finally, Farmington, NM as General Manager of Navajo Mine, coal mining operations, for Utah International. During his tenure, Navajo Mine became the safest in the Nation. John also developed deep respect for the Navajo people who affectionately referred to him as “Red Boy” because of his tendency to sunburn. John was an industry leader in mining, testifying twice before Congress and becoming one of an elite group of professionals from critical sectors in the US economy selected by the US government to be taken “to the bunkers” in the case of nuclear disaster.
In 1991, John, at the age of 65, retired as Senior Vice President, from the company, now BHP, and started a new chapter in his life. John continued to serve the community of Farmington, NM, serving as President of the San Juan County Economic Development Council. He rekindled his interest in art, golf, and most importantly, focused his attentions on his grandchildren Brandon, Caroline, Cody, Stan, and Travis. John married Willene Looney in 1997, gaining three stepdaughters, Jessica, Selene, and Michele (a.k.a, Chele), in the deal. John and Willene moved to the lovely community of Genoa, NV, also spending time in Horseshoe Bay, Texas and Santa Fe, NM, shared their passion for art, and traveled the world. John’s legacy as a leader in mining and mine safety, his wisdom, and gentle humor have left an indelible impression on all who had the honor to meet him.
John is survived by his wife Wilma Willene Looney, son John David and wife Lisa Ann, grandchildren John Brandon, wife Larissa Michele, and children Thomas Andrew and William Frederick; Caroline Marie Aldrich, husband Armand Faris Eliassen, and children Oliver John and Henry Emile; Cody Theodore; Stanley Joseph and daughter Keslynn Dawn; and Travis W. and wife Rinde Lee, daughter-in-law Maryann Atkins, sister-in-law Jeannie Olene Looney, and step-daughters Jessica Lee Moseley and husband Frederick Richard Sanchez; Olga Selene and husband Benjamin Martinez; and Michele Irene Moseley. John was preceded in death by his first wife Iva Marie Porter, son Kenneth Brian, and sister Jean Ellen Guffey.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, June 15th in Genoa, NV at Genoa Town Park, 11am – 4pm. For additional information, contact Chele at 775-790-5502.