Beloved Columbiana resident passes away

Published 5:07 pm Friday, January 7, 2011

By KATIE HURST/ Lifestyles Editor

COLUMBIANA — Longtime Columbiana resident Harry Atchison, 84, died Jan. 7 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease and a recent stroke.


Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe said Harry and his wife Bonnie were an instrumental part of the Columbiana community for as long as anyone can remember. Atchison was in Columbiana before electricity, Lowe said.

“I remember hearing a story about when he was a young boy he was on his bike with a friend and saw the gentleman from Alabama Power switching the electricity on the poles,” he said. “He got the idea he was going to race the electricity into town.”

Atchison retired after 34 years from Alabama By-Products Corporation. He also worked at First National Bank for 18 years. He was a veteran, farmer and always involved with community events, Lowe said. Every year Atchison rode his tractor and played Uncle Sam in the Liberty Day parade, he said. He was recognized for his role in 2010 by being named that year’s grand marshal.

“We’ve got some mighty big shoes to fill with his involvement in community events,” Lowe said. “He gave Liberty Day its stability. It’s just not Liberty Day without Harry Atchison.

“He’s always supported his community and was always giving of his time,” he added. “Anything you asked him to do, he would. He was a true gentleman.”

The Atchisons were instrumental in starting the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce, said Richard Cook, one of the Chamber’s charter members.

Bonnie Atchison served on the steering committee that got the Chamber off the ground, he said. The Atchisons’ friendship with Janet Niven led Niven to leave her house to the city after her death. The home now houses the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce and serves as a meeting place for the community.

“I figure Harry was a big part of Janet leaving it to us,” Cook said.

Outside of his service to the community, Atchison was a friend to many and was always a jokester, Cook said.

“Harry was one of the most respected men in Columbiana,” he said.

Cook said despite Atchison’s commitment to the community, he never wanted credit for the work he did.

“It’s hard to say what all he’s done because most of the time he didn’t want no accolades or praise, he just wanted to get the job done,” he said.

Atchison’s funeral will be held at the First Baptist Church of Columbiana at 2 p.m. Jan. 9. A visitation will be held at the church from 6-8 p.m. Jan. 8.