Jerry Porter Atkinson, age 74, died Wednesday, September 29, 2021 at White Lake, NC. He was born in Wilmington, NC, on March 15, 1947.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, Guy and Mable Atkinson, a son, Ryan Scott Atkinson, brothers Wayne and Stanley Atkinson. He leaves behind a daughter Catherine Atkinson of White Lake, granddaughters Aubrey and Annie Guidry of Marco Island, FL, a sister Kathy Atkinson of White Lake, sister-in-law Carol Atkinson of Brandon, MS, nephew Eric Atkinson (Donna) of Raleigh, NC, and a niece Krista Barnhart (Brent) of Hernando, MS.
Jerry loved water. He learned to barefoot ski when he was 12 behind his cousin’s wooden boat with a 35Hp motor. His ability to ski, and ski well enabled him to participate in the Tommy Bartlett water show in Wisconsin Dells the summer of 1969 after his graduation from Campbell College. He then skied with Cypress Gardens and made himself famous (at least in the eyes of his family). Ed McMahon hosted a special about Cypress Gardens and the opening segment highlighted Jerry on barefoot, backwards barefoot, and backwards barefoot with a toehold.
Jerry joined Disney World when it opened in 1971 to help organize and produce a ski show. He then worked with the Sales and Marketing Division of Disney for over twenty years. Then Jerry moved to Marco Island, Florida. During this time, he worked in the Sales and Marketing of the Marco Island Hilton Resort and Spa.
During his time on Marco Island, Jerry developed a love of deep-sea fishing, spearfishing and diving. There was no shortage of willing participants to jump on his boat and head to the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas or fish and dive near home. His son, nephew and many friends were willing and able First Mates always ready to catch their limit. His friends were delighted to share in Jerry’s bountiful harvest from the sea. Jerry always made it to White Lake for the Porter and Atkinson family reunions. He loved coming home to visit his family and friends with coolers of stone crab claws, lobster, grouper, and tales from the sea. As big as Jerry’s love for the ocean was, White Lake held an equally large place in his heart. He was proud of Bladen County as they were of him. He was also a charter member of the White Lake Ski Heels. Jerry will be missed by many for his loving spirit, his stories of living life to the fullest and his generosity.
Visitation for family and friends will be held at the home of his sister, Kathy Atkinson at White Lake from 2-4 pm on Saturday, October 9, 2021.
In lieu of flowers, any donations may be made to Lower Cape Fear Life Care Foundation, 206 Warrior Trail, Whiteville, NC 28472 or Wilie Atkinson Cemetery Association, United Bank, Elizabethtown, NC 28337.
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