Wayne Atherton, 93, Iola, left to be with the Lord and joined his heavenly family on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, surrounded by his loving family at the University Of Kansas Medical Center.
Wayne was the seventh of 10 children born to Eula Harold Atherton and Norah Lillian (Schultze) Atherton on Dec. 3, 1923 in Adams, Okla.
He grew up in the panhandle of Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years. During this Wayne served as his family’s designated cattle herder. He claimed this was the most boring job on the planet. To pass his time he became very proficient at catching jackrabbits. He and his brothers drove the school bus for the Eureka Consolidated School District while they were in school. Wayne enjoyed playing sports in school. Wayne graduated from high school in 1942.
Following his 18th birthday in December 1942 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He served on the USS Appalachian as a Carpenter’s Mate. During World War II he participated in the liberation of The Marshall Islands, Guam and Leyte of the Philippines and Luzon. He returned to San Diego following the war and was honorably discharged in February 1946.
Wayne then enrolled in college at Panhandle State College where he met Lois Thompson. They were married on Dec. 26, 1946. Wayne played football during college, despite not being able to play during high school. During the summers of 1946-48 Wayne followed the wheat harvest as a custom harvester. He also worked as a carpenter before choosing to pursue a career as an educator. After earning his master’s degree in school administration Wayne began his career in Galesburg in 1955, as the superintendent. In 1960 he moved to Moran as the principal/superintendent. Throughout his 30-plus years as an administrator and educator, Wayne worked in Moran, Galena and Nashville-Zenda. Wayne spent seven years as the director of the Urban/Rural School Program at Galena. In 1970 they moved to his current home near Gas.
In his retirement, he owned and operated Wagon Wheel Wood Products, where he produced and distributed hickory wood chips for grilling. After almost 49 years of marriage, Lois passed away on Oct. 22, 1995. Wayne later married Debra Abram on July 11, 1998, in Miami, Okla., and they enjoyed 19 years of marriage. Wayne enjoyed carpentry and woodworking. In his retirement, he was able to pursue his love of cabinet making, building numerous sets of kitchen cabinets for family and friends.
Wayne enjoyed working in his garden. He included his grandchildren in many of his activities, including working in the woodshop. Wayne’s use of his patented turtle trap made him a world-renowned turtle catcher and allowed him to re-home them in area waterways. His grandchildren were some of his greatest joys and he attended countless activities. Wayne’s Democratic principles could be seen in his inclusiveness and caring, non-judgmental way of relating to people. He will be remembered as resourceful and who remained positive in the face of adversity. But, above all, he will be remembered by his family as Granddaddy.
Wayne was preceded in death by his first wife, Lois; his parents; and all nine of his siblings.
He is survived by his wife, Debbie, Iola; daughter, Jonet Bland and husband Melvin, Moran; son, Tracy Atherton and wife Cece, Overland Park; stepson, Chad Abram and wife Leslie, Galena; seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Moran United Methodist Church. The family will greet friends from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday at Moran United Methodist Church. Memorials are suggested to the Wayne Atherton memorial fund; a beneficiary will be named later. Condolences may be left at www.feuerbornfuneral.com.
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