Mitchell Alexander Atkins, 102, a retired warehouse employee and a church deacon for nearly five decades, died Dec. 5 at his home in Mt. Airy.
Mr. Atkins retired in 1974 after working for 29 years as a receiving clerk at the Pennsylvania Warehouse & Safe Deposit Co.
He also was the oldest and longest-serving deacon at Deliverance Evangelistic Church in North Philadelphia.
Born in Douglas, Ga., at a time when there were no elementary schools for black children, he attended classes in what were then called “church houses.” After working for $5 a week at a pressing machine factory in Jacksonville, Fla., he found a better job as a cook at a Jacksonville restaurant for $11 a week.
Even though he was promoted to chief cook, he still was not permitted to eat in the restaurant. He and the other black employees ate in a shed behind the restaurant.
In 1945, he and his wife, the former Mattie Louise Butler, moved to Philadelphia.
In addition to his wife of 81 years, Mr. Atkins is survived by a son, Roland; daughters Meleesa Yvonne Jones, Reauchean Smaller, Linda Atkins-Ellison and Carmen West; 17 grandchildren; 30 great-grandchildren, and 14 great-great-grandchildren. A son, Mitchell Glenn, and a daughter, Christine Jeanette, preceded him in death.
Funeral services were held Dec. 13 at Deliverance Evangelistic Church. – WF