Gerald “Jerry” Arthur Atkins, an only child, was about 10 when his mother, Lola Kelly Atkins, died.
Born on Oct. 17, 1919, he was raised by his father, Bernard B. Atkins, a policeman, in Gothenburg, Nebraska. He played several sports in high school, including track, where as of 2018 he was still one of the best 100-yard-dash runners in Gothenburg High history. He then went on to Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska, where he played football.
Mr. Atkins enlisted in the Navy on April 30, 1940. He was a hospital apprentice first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. His body was not recovered, but his father arranged for a marker to be placed at the Geneva, Nebraska, cemetery.
A memorial service was held March 1, 1942, at the Methodist church in Gothenburg.