Thomas E. (“Tom”) Atkins III passed away Wednesday, July 22, 2020, at the age of 86.
Born Dec. 24, 1933, to Thomas Edward Atkins Jr. (“Country Atkins”) and Ruby Schuermann Atkins, Tom was a lifelong Columbia and Boone County resident, graduating from Hickman High School in 1952 as senior class president. Tom graduated from MU in 1956, the same year he married Linda Lou Holman. Tom met Linda in kindergarten and began dating her in ninth grade. She was the love of his life.
While in college, Tom worked at the Stein Club in downtown Columbia, a popular local bar owned by Tom’s father.
After serving in the Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Tom partnered with his uncle, Mac McCauley, to work in the family business. Founded in 1925 by Tom’s grandparents, T. E. Atkins Sr. and his wife, Elsie, the company would grow and thrive to later become known as Atkins Building Services and Products Inc.
Tom led a long and influential life in Columbia and Boone County and was considered a pillar of this community. He was a former president of the UM System Board of Curators and former chair of the Board of Trustees of Columbia College, from which he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters. Tom was a member of Phi Delta Theta, a Faurot Fellow, recipient of the Faculty-Alumni Award and Distinguished Service Award from MU, a lifetime member of the Missouri Alumni Association, and a longtime member of the “Round Table” lunch group.
Tom was a firm believer in “paying it forward,” and the impacts of his philanthropy and charitable work are far-reaching. Tom served as a founding member of the De Tocqueville Society of United Way, served as co-chair for the establishment of the Ellis Fischel Cancer Hospital Advisory Board, and he led the effort to establish a wellness program for the University of Missouri System.
Tom and his family donated 80 acres to the city of Columbia and Boone County to build the Country Atkins Park and provided the lead gift to build the Atkins-Holman Student Commons Building at Columbia College.
Tom’s most recent philanthropic passion was MU’s Next Gen center, a multi-disciplinary approach to research in human health that will benefit Missourians for generations to come.
Tom and his family also have a long history as generous supporters of many local nonprofit organizations.
An entrepreneur and businessman, Tom and his son, Scott, led the way for downtown Columbia revitalization by spearheading historic remodeling of downtown buildings, including the old Strollway Center – now Atkins City Centre – along with four other historic downtown properties. Tom served as president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, president of the United Way-Columbia and was a founding member of Regional Economic Development Inc.
Possessed of an easy sense of humor, Tom was able to see the light side of most things. Twenty years ago, a visitor to Tom’s office referred to Tom as “The Old Guy in the Corner Office.” Tom condensed that to OGITCO, adopted it as a nickname and used it the rest of his life.
Tom is survived by his wife of 63 years, Linda Holman Atkins; his daughter, Mindy Atkins Wickersham and husband Andy Wickersham of Kansas City; his son, Scott Atkins and wife Fran Mehrle Atkins of Columbia; grandchildren, Thomas I (“T I”) Atkins and wife Avery, Andrew F. (“Drew”) Atkins, Paul M. Atkins, Jake A. Wickershamand Chloe Rose Wickersham; a niece, Meredith Myers; and nephew, Greg Myers. He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Marcelle Myers; and May and Raymond Holman, mother- and father-in-law.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, funeral services will be limited to family only. In memoriam donations may be made to NextGen c/o Mun Choi, Chancellor’s Office, 105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211.
Online condolences may be left at www.memorialfuneralhomeandcemetery.com.