Friday, January 30, 2015

Grandpa Atwood

My husband's grandpa passed away earlier this week. He was a wonderful man who was adored by his family. This picture was taken in November just a few weeks after our son Maccoy (middle name Atwood) was born. Jake wrote the obituary with his cousin Lacee and wanted to share it. 

Robert Atwood passed away on January 26, 2015 at his home in Mesa, Arizona. He was surrounded by his beautiful wife of 66 years and all six of his children when the Lord called him home.

If you every think of the word "example," you should think of my grandpa.  He was and still will be the best example to many people (family and friends alike) of what it means to be a Christian man. He was always there for anyone who needed him.  He and grandma prayed daily for one of their children and anyone connected to that child; whether it was his/her spouse, kids, grandkids, friends, or relatives of that child and anyone else they felt needed prayer that day. He made special dates with the grandsons, taking them to some of his favorite places for breakfast or lunch to make them feel special (and oh…how special they felt!).  They got alone time with the best grandpa in the entire world!  At one time in his life he mentioned that he would have enjoyed hunting and fishing more, but more important was to spend time with his family…so that’s what he did!  If anyone had a baby (and with six children and all of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren there were a lot of babies), we all knew grandpa had to be one of the first people we introduced our baby to. He would hold them,  rock them, sing to them (I'm sure some of us still sing The Donut Song or the song about the skunk sticking its head in a skunk hole, because we heard them sung over and over by him), rub their feet, and love on them! When they got a little bit older, he still loved the babies.  However, if they cried he would say, "Hey, you cry and I'll whistle!" and that’s just what he did.  Before long, the baby didn’t quite know what to think and the crying was over.  If you knew Robert at all...even just a little, I'm sure that you have heard at least one of his jokes.  He loved to tell jokes to anyone that would listen.  Sometimes, you heard the same one over and over.  But it didn’t matter.  You still laughed with him and smiled as if you hadn't heard it before.  If you ever needed a Tic-Tac, he had some, and they were always the orange ones (the best color of Tic-Tac).  Still, to this day, if we buy Tic-Tacs, we buy the orange ones, because the other colors don't mean anything when you could buy and eat the color that he loved the most. 

Robert was born on July 31, 1928 in Stubbs Township of Rusk County, Wisconsin to Walter & Bernice Atwood.  He married Beverly Bollman on August 10, 1948 at Riverside Mission in Bruce, Wisconsin.  They shared a deep love and commitment for each other that was evident to anyone who knew them.

Though Robert attended church as a child, he credits an evangelism service that he attended in Raymond, Washington in 1949 as the time when he committed his life to the Lord.  As a newly married man, he pulled his wife up with him as he walked to the front of the church to respond to the preacher’s invitation to start a relationship with Jesus.  It’s because of his belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection that we have peace knowing he is in heaven.  Moreover, because of his passion for discipleship and evangelism, many others have come to know Jesus through him.

From an early age grandpa learned what it meant to be a hard worker.  At eight years old he was working the farm behind a team of horses.  When he finished school, he went where the work was: building army barracks in Alaska, laying railroad tracks in Wisconsin (only because he was too young to fight in the war), driving a caterpillar clearing logging roads in Washington, driving a route for a laundry service, and hauling milk as a long distance truck driver.  After starting an insurance agency in Zion, Illinois in 1968, he worked two other jobs to provide for his family—driving a school bus in the morning and working a night shift at Dunkin Donuts.

Grandpa’s favorite day of the week was Sunday.  Often his only day off during the week, he loved going to church with his family.  In the car ride to church, he would quote Psalm 122, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.”  For the last several years he and grandma attended Boulder Mountain Community Church.  He was always eager to go to church, even in the last years of his life when he was so weak that such an outing would mean two days for him to recover his strength.

Finally, Grandpa was a visionary.  He would say, “Get a vision and step out in faith.”  For him, this meant starting an insurance agency, in spite of his company’s representatives telling him he wouldn’t make it (which is something you don’t say to him).  Not only did he make it, but he was agent of the year the following year, and he later started his second agency in Arizona.  God also gave him a vision to be a church planter.  Working with the Baptist General Conference he started Faith Baptist Church in 1974 in Grayslake, Illinois and Desert View Baptist Church in 1983 out of a Bible study in his living room in Mesa.  He was a charter member of Vision Arizona, a church-planting movement that is very much alive today, starting churches all over the state of Arizona.

To his wife, six kids, 18 grandchildren, and 37 great-grandchildren, he gave an example of what it means to lead his family, love his wife, and love God.  We will miss his prayers, his gentle spirit, his humor, and his kisses.  
Grandpa wanted to leave us with Philippians 4:13: 
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to one of Robert and Beverly's favorite ministries:

CHIEF - the Christian Hope Indian Eskimo Fellowship (
Hospice of the Valley (

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