The Union Recorder


May 8, 2014

Grace Shaeffer Atkins

MILLEDGEVILLE — Grace Shaeffer Atkins, in her 100th year, died peacefully surrounded by her loving family at her home in Chelsea, Mich. on April 29, 2014. She was born at her family home on the banks on the Manatee River in Ellenton, Fla. on Oct. 3, 1914. Her parents, Charlie and Hattie Shaeffer, were pioneers in that region. Her father discovered and managed a fullers earth clay mine, then used in the refinement of gasoline.

Gracie, as her family called her, was the youngest of five siblings: Lenore, Elizabeth, Francis and Charlie. The family later moved to Bainbridge where she completed high school and then earned a degree in studio art from Huntington College in Montgomery, Ala. 

On Nov. 15, 1941 she married Lt. Daniel Ewell Atkins Jr. in Milledgeville. Within the year Ewell was called to active duty in WW II in the South Pacific for almost four years. Shortly after he left, their first son Daniel Ewell Atkins III was born. While waiting for her husband’s return she was a mother, supported the war effort and lived with family members in various parts of the South. United with Ewell on Christmas 1945, they moved to Marietta where her second son, Edwin Charles Atkins was born.

In 1950 the family moved to Wheaton, Md. where Ewell had a career with the Veterans Administration in Washington, DC.

Grace nurtured her family and friends, taught kindergarten and was active in her church. She was a role model for dignity, love and honesty. Every Christmas she painted a seasonal mural on the glass storm door of their home that was widely admired.

After retirement, Grace and Ewell moved south; first to Greenwood, S.C. and then to Holmes Beach, Fla. In 2005 she moved to the United Methodist Chelsea Retirement Community for a decade of inspiring living among friends and four generations of family in nearby Ann Arbor and New York city. She continued a passion for baseball, moving her allegiance from the Atlanta Braves to the Detroit Tigers.

Grace is survived by sons, Daniel (Monica, Ann Arbor), Edwin (New York, N.Y.); grandson, Thomas Atkins (Leticia Valdez, Ann Arbor); and granddaughter, Susan Atkins (Michael Fainter, Ann Arbor). Grams, as she is affectionately known, has five great-grandchildren: Owen, Lucas and Tessa Grace Fainter, and Felix and Maximo Atkins. She leaves many devoted friends.

Her life spanned a century — from the dawn of the automotive age through the modern digital age in which she used the internet, cellphones and HDTV.

A memorial service, with a reception following, will he held at 2 o’clock on Saturday,May 10, 2014 in the Chapel at the Chelsea Retirement Community, 801 W. Middle St., Chelsea, Mich. She will be buried next to her husband of 58 years at the Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah.

In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to the United Methodist Retirement Center (UMRC) Foundation, Development Office, 805 W. Middle St., Chelsea, Mich. 48118.

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