Mrs. Mary Ward Shearin Atkins, age 84, of Cary, North Carolina, passed away unexpectedly Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at her residence at Woodland Terrace Senior Living Community in Cary.
Mrs. Atkins was a native of Aventon, NC. She was the daughter of the late Addison R. and Olive Lang Shearin. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband of thirty-two years, James Edward Atkins of Cary, NC, two brothers, Rudolph as an infant, and Phillip H. Shearin of Aventon and brother-in-law, Haywood J. Atkins.
Mrs. Atkins retired from the Wake County School system in 1990 after twenty nine years of dedicated service to public schools. Beginning as a teacher of Home Economics in Cary and later Raleigh City schools, she resumed her career, after a time spent raising her children, as a teacher of Special Education. Working with local Civitans, Jaycees, Knights of Columbus and others, her classes were able to participate in field trips to the beach, Disney World, and local Special Olympics, and to acquire a piano and other equipment for active learning not provided by state funding. A highlight of these years for her class was scrimmaging against Coach Mike Krzyzewski's Duke University basketball team. The children were able to reach for their full potential in her classes with the help of many citizens of the town of Cary.
As graduating students needed work to do, she and her husband helped start a non-profit business to employ developmentally disabled adults, Life Experiences, Inc. Today the business thrives and continues it's mission (www.lifeexperiences.org)
In addition to work, Mrs. Atkins was a member of the Gleaners, a teacher of Sunday School, and later, a participant in activities at Woodland Terrace including the memoirs writing class. With the assistance of her brother Edwin Shearin she published a book, entitled Mom's Musings, of stories from her life as a gift for her family in 2014.
Mrs. Atkins enjoyed world travel during her life from her time in West Germany as a young bride until travel to Japan, Australia, The United Kingdom, Canada, Western Europe, the states in the Western United States, Alaska and Hawaii as a retired adult.
Survivors include daughter, Donna Atkins Absher and husband Ray (R.G.) of Elkin, North Carolina, son James Daryl Atkins and wife Caroline of Frederick, Maryland, daughter Terri Atkins Rapp and husband George of Broomall, Pennsylvania, grandsons Parker James Blair Martin of Elkin and David Alexander Spotswood Heppner of Frederick, granddaughters Jessica Shearin Rapp and Elena Renee Rapp of Broomall and Caroline Frances Heppner of Frederick, brother, Dr. William A. and wife, Dr. Dorothy B. Shearin of Cary, brother Edwin E. and wife Patricia F. Shearin of Columbia, South Carolina, sister -in-law Elizabeth D. Shearin of Aventon, sister-in-law, Laura B. Atkins of New Hill, North Carolina, sister-in-law, Jeanette Atkins Brooks and husband George of Cary and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
The family will receive visitors at Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, 200 E. Maynard Road, Cary, NC on Monday evening, September 1, 2014 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. The funeral service for Mrs. Atkins will be held at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church, 110 SE Maynard Road, Cary, NC on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. followed by the graveside service at Brier Creek Memorial Gardens Cemetery, 7600 ACC Boulevard, Raleigh, NC.
The family requests memorial contributions be given to Life Experiences, Inc, 260 Towerview Court, Cary North Carolina 27513.