‹ Return to Current Obituaries
Send FlowersHand delivered by a local florist
Send a Sympathy Card
Plant Memorial Trees


Cross Creek Cemetery
Friday January 4th, 2019
1:00pm - 2:00pm

View Details

Funeral Service

Ladies Parlor at St Luke
Friday January 4th, 2019

View Details


St Luke United Methodist Church
Friday January 4th, 2019

View Details

Order Flowers now for guaranteed delivery before Ernest's visitation.

Ernest Willard Atkinson

Ernest Willard Atkinson, 92, of Sanford passed away January 2, 2019. Funeral services will be held Friday January 4, 2019 at 2pm at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.


Ernest was born in Kenly N.C. to Walter and Mary Atkinson. After he graduated high school, he joined the army and was drafted in World War II. He graduated from Atlantic Christian College, now known as Barton College, in Wilson N.C. After College he spent 3 years in Middlesex N.C as the coach of all sports programs including 6-man football. He then spent 7 years in Bladenboro N.C. as a coach. Ernest was the Dean of Students at Presbyterian Junior College in Maxton N.C. after which he served his first principalship in High Falls N.C. Following that he found himself in Sanford N.C. as the principal of St. Clair, Warren Williams and Jonesboro schools. While in Sanford he was promoted to head of maintenance and travel of the school systems and then served as assistant superintendent. Later he served as interim superintendent and then retired in Sanford after 38 years in education.


Mr. Atkinson was preceded in death by his brothers and sisters Ronnie, Paul, Bobby, Doris, Mildred, and Eva Mae.


Mr. Atkinson is survived by his wife of 68 years, Edna Ruth Barnes Atkinson; sons Ernest Steve Atkinson, and wife Kellie Knox Atkinson of Iron Station N.C. and James Willard Atkinson (Jim), and wife Kelly Greene Atkinson of Look-Out Mt. Tennessee; daughter Wendy Atkinson Hales, and husband Gregory Eugene Hales of Sanford; 6 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren; sister Ruth Daniels of Kenly N.C.


Visitation will be held in the parlor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church at 1pm Friday January 4, 2019.


Memorials can be made to St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 2916 Wicker St, Sanford, NC 27330, or to the charity of one’s choice.


To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ernest Atkinson, please visit our flower store.


A candle was lit in memory of Ernest Atkinson

Marshall McIver Jan 29 2019 12:00 AM

Mr. Atkinson was my principal at Jonesboro and then when I came to work for Lee County Schools he was our Assistant Superintendent. Such a sweet and kind man with a great work ethic. He loved his family. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
Mary Hawley Oates

Mary Hawley Oates Jan 4 2019 12:00 AM

Robin and I will most certainly miss our next door neighbor of the past 9 years, Mr. Atkinson. He truly was a member in good standing of the greatest generation. I will always cherish the many interesting talks we had about our football, basketball, and baseball Tar Heels. And well both miss the sights and sounds of him chopping wood, whacking golf balls, and riding on his lawnmower. Cant imagine a better neighbor. Praying for Mrs. Atkinson and all of her family.

Kelly Faulk Jan 4 2019 12:00 AM

A candle was lit in memory of Ernest Atkinson

Shari W Corbett Jan 3 2019 12:00 AM

An A Garden Path was sent by the Barnes family on January 3, 2019

Expression of Sympathy Jan 3 2019 12:00 AM

A Spathiphyllum was sent on January 3, 2019

With deepest sympathy. We are in Florida and so very sorry that we can't be there. Love you. Your beach friends. Jim and LaRue Mills.

Expression of Sympathy Jan 3 2019 12:00 AM

It's been a very long time since I saw Uncle Ernest (my father, Luther, was Edna's brother), but I remember his deep voice and kind smile and eyes from the Atkinson family's and my childhood family's visits to Edna's and Luther's home place in Wilson County where Edna's mother and sister, Peggy, still lived at the time. Uncle Ernest was always spoken of in my childhood home as a good and kind man who was deeply devoted to Edna, Jim, Steve, Wendy and their families. While it is sad to hear of Ernest's passing, he is no doubt resting now in peace with the Lord, and we who are left behind can also rest in the hope ofknowing we will see him again in Glory when we too are called home to be with the Lord.I regret that I cannot make the trip to Sanford this Friday for Ernest's funeral, but the Barnes family sends our love and prayers to the Atkinsons and their extended families for comfort, peaceand hope during this difficult time.

Haywood A. Barnes Jan 3 2019 12:00 AM

A Table Memorial with Trinity of Candles was sent on January 3, 2019

Our sympathy and love to the Atkinson family. Jeff Nation, Tim Manson, Frank Williams, Ward Nelson

Expression of Sympathy Jan 3 2019 12:00 AM

A Garden Path Vase was sent by Candy and Sam Harper on January 3, 2019

Expression of Sympathy Jan 3 2019 12:00 AM

Wendy & family-
So sorry for your loss. Condolences from all of your First Bank family

Pam Wase Jan 3 2019 12:00 AM

Show More Entries