Withington Atkins

Karkilie “Lee” Withington Atkins 1923 – 2022 BRUNSWICK – Karkilie “Lee” Withington Atkins left her earthly role as Matriarch of an extensive family just as the sun came up on July 21, 2022. Born at home in Brookline, Mass. on Oct. 21, 1923, the middle of nine children to Lothrop and Kathryn (Whipple) Withington, she was just three months shy of her 99th birthday. She is survived by three of her siblings, Anne “Pandy” (Benjamin) Brewster, Paul Withington, and Nathan “Nuff” Withington, all of Plymouth, Mass. Lee had a spirited childhood, split between Brookline and Plymouth, and having two significantly younger siblings, developed a lifelong interest in early childhood education. She was a student/teacher at Ruggles Street School (The Nursery Training School of Boston) which was one of the first nursery schools in the country, and a pioneer of early childhood education. She went on to teach at The Chestnut Hill School, and was a Curling champion. A war bride, she had a remarkable partnership with Henry Hornblower Atkins for 57 years until he predeceased her in 2001. They were married on June 14, 1944, shortly before Henry went overseas to serve in WWII. Their first child, Dr. Henry “Toby” (Alice “Tilly” Evans) Atkins II was born in Waltham, Mass., while Henry was overseas. After the war, Henry finished up his studies at Yale and they relocated to Geneva, Switzerland, where Henry became Chief of Staff to the President of the Centre D’Etudes Industrielles, a business school training managers for postwar reconstruction. Here, their next two children, Chester Atkins (Jessica Stern) and Timothy (Nancy Whitestone) Atkins, were born, and Lee navigated being a young mother while learning a new language in a new country. In 1951, they moved to Montreal, Canada, where Henry began a career at Alcan/Canada. Their next three children were born there: Daniel Atkins (Nancy Clum), Karkilie “Lilie” Atkins (ex. Taissir Alani), and Rachel Atkins (dec. Jesus Garcia Hernandez “Tagor”). During this time, Lee developed a keen interest in Canadian art, promoting and collecting early works by Indigenous Canadian artists and the post WW2 school of Quebec artists. In 1958, at Lee’s urging, Henry changed careers and they moved to Belmont, Mass., while Henry obtained a Masters in Education from Harvard. In 1959 they moved to Concord, Henry began working in the Newton public school system teaching 6th grade, and their youngest child, Rebecca “Becky” (David) Shepherd was born. In addition to her growing family, Lee oversaw a burgeoning menagerie of both animals and her children’s friends; as one friend summed up, “she was always welcoming, kind, incredibly generous and caring to all of us her children brought home, and there were so many of us who loved and admired her”. During this time Lee served on the Board of Boys and Girls Camps. In 1970 the family moved to Plymouth, Mass., where Lee created four small businesses: the Dusty Miller and Snow Goose gift shops, the Clock Shop, and Jenny Grist Mill, a working reproduction of the original Plymouth Colonist’s 1636 mill. In 1989 Lee and Henry retired to Brunswick, Maine, where they became involved in the creation of Wild Oats Bakery & Cafe, their daughter Becky’s vision. Lee had a vast definition of family and a compassionate and generous spirit that garnered the affection of many. She instilled in her children a calling to contribute to the world in a way that helped make it a better place for all. Her extraordinary attitude and vibrant smile, while living her final chapter under the safety protocols of a pandemic, made her a social media sensation that was a source of inspiration and comfort for many. Her family is deeply grateful for the compassionate and loving care she received at Horizons Living and Rehab Center. She leaves behind her seven children, their spouses, former spouses Corinne “Cory” Hobbs (Chester) Atkins, Heidi Rankin (Daniel); 20 grandchildren; and 33 great- grandchildren. In the words of one grandchild, “She was so many wonderful things to so many wonderful people, and has left a gaping hole in my soul. But most of all, she’s left me with a profound love for our enormous, boisterous family that she and my grandfather spent their lives weaving together. And in that, she’ll live forever.” There will be a Celebration of Life gathering at Wild Oats Bakery & Cafe in Brunswick on Sept. 11, 2022 at 11 a.m.. Further information will be available from: [email protected] In lieu of flowers, donations to: Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust or Kennebec Estuary Land Trust are welcomed


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