Peters Township officials pay tribute to Atkison

Published Jul 9, 2013 at 1:08 pm (Updated Jul 9, 2013 at 1:08 pm)

When Peters Township Councilman-At-Large Robert Atkison died unexpectedly July 7, Tom McMurray not only lost a long-time member of the VFW Post 764 Ambulance Service, he lost a friend.

Atkison was the assistant director of the ambulance service.

McMurray, director of the ambulance service and a member of the Peters Township School Board, was at home Sunday afternoon when he heard the radio call for an ambulance response at the Atkison home. He immediately went to the house.

Atkison, 81, never showed his age, always busy tending to township concerns, the needs of the ambulance service and spending time with his wife of 54 years, Ann, their four children, eight grandchildren and a new great-granddaughter.

“Bob never slowed down,” McMurray said. They had been friends since the 1980s.

“I respected his intelligence and I respected his practicality,” McMurray said. “He spoke his mind. We were like an old married couple. Sometimes we got along and sometimes we didn’t.” McMurray and Atkison were the only two remaining volunteers in the now-paid ambulance service. The family requests donations in his memory to the ambulance service.

Peters Township police Chief Harry Fruect, in his capacity as the public service director, worked frequently with Atkison.

“I worked with Bob for 25 years. He was heavily involved with the ambulance service as well as other areas of the township,” Fruecht said. “He was very dedicated and he will be sorely missed.”

Council held its regular meeting July 8 as the flag outside the municipal building hung at half mast in memory of Atkison.

Following a moment of silence, each council member was given the opportunity to say a few word about Atkison’s passing.

Councilwoman Monica Merrell sat next to Atkison during the meetings.

She said when she first met Atkison, she thought he was a “crusty old man” and after getting to know him better, she realized he really was a crusty old man. Then, after laughter from the rest of the council, her voice broke with emotion when she said, “He will always have a soft spot in my heart.”

Council President Frank Acuri said, “Bob was Bob and you knew what you were getting from Bob.”

Councilman James Berquist said Atkison begins with an “A” and that was fitting as he was an “A+” man. Councilman Robert Lewis had served with Atkison the longest on council. He said, “He let you know where he stood.” Berquist went on to comment on Atkison’s fiscal responsibility and that, at times, he could be an antagonist.

“Peters Township has lost one of its greatest citizens,” Berquist said.

Atkison was a member of council for 22 of the past 24 years and had been a township resident for the past 50 years.

Councilman David Ball sent his condolences to the Atkison family and added, “The township has lost a great citizen.”

Township Manager Michael Silvestri said he had known Atkison since before Atkison was first elected to council.

“His heart was to do whatever was best for the township,” Silvestri said. “He loved his family, the ambulance service and the township.”

“It will be very, very difficult, if not impossible, to replace him,” Arcuri said. “His presence on this council will be surely missed.”

Viewing will be at Beinhauer’s Funeral Home on Washington Road from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. July 10 and 11, with the funeral set for 11 a.m. July 12.

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