Melvin Atkinson, 86, of Hazen ND, passed away peacefully on June 26, 2021, at Sakakawea Medical Center, Hazen with family by his side. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, July 6th, 2021 at 9:00 AM CDT with a memorial service to follow at 10:00 AM at the Barbot Funeral Home in Beulah followed by his burial at the North Dakota Veteran’s Cemetery, Mandan, ND at 2:00 PM CDT.
Mel was born July 28, 1934, in Bottineau County to Thomas Nelson Atkinson and Johanna (Liebelt) Atkinson. Mel was baptized in Willow City ND in 1941. He grew up on the family farm and graduated from Willow City High School in 1952. Mel continued in his family’s long history of military service and enlisted in the US Army in 1954 and was Honorably Discharged in 1956. He received the National Defense Service and the Good Conduct Medals and continued in the Army Reserve for an additional 8 years. Mel furthered his education at the ND School of Forestry in Bottineau and at NDSU in Fargo.
Mel met Shirley Erickson in 1957 and they were united in marriage on June 21, 1958 in Rugby ND. They lived in Towner while Mel worked on construction projects. In 1980, Mel and Shirley moved their family to Hazen to work in the power plant industry. It was common to see Mel working with and sharing his love of horses with his family and friends. He became involved with raising Montana Travler horses in 1994 and continued with that for many years.
Mel’s passion for horses led him on countless trail rides, numerous wagon trains including the Girls Scouts of American wagon train in 1991, President Clinton’s inaugural parade in 1993, and the Pony Express to Cheyenne WY in 1994. Mel was a member of the US Marshal Posse, the West River Teamsters Association, and the Western Canadian Wheelwright Association.
Mel is survived by his wife of 63 years, Shirley of Hazen, and their children Sarah Elder (Ben Elder) of Valley City ND, Tom Atkinson of Ayr ND, Sandra Krause (Bob Krause) of Parker CO, and Tim Atkinson of Blanchard ND. Mel was a loving grandfather to his grandchildren, Shane Tragesser, Dustin Tragesser, Nicole Krause, Matthew Krause (Abigail Krause), Kristy Larson (Travis Larson), and Kaitlyn Atkinson. He was also the proud great-grandfather to Kyson Larson, Thielyn Larson, and Katherine Krause. Mel is also survived by his two sisters, Donna Cote of Missoula MT and Sally Brandt of Cleveland TN, along with numerous loving cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Mel was preceded in death by his parents Thomas and Johanna; brothers Harold Atkinson, Maynard Atkinson and his wife Ana Atkinson; brothers-in-law Sheldon (Ted) Brandt and Victor Cote.
** Our family would like to express our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all who have been so thoughtful and kind during this time. Your love, support, and friendship is greatly appreciated by us all.
** In lieu of flowers, donations can made be made to the Western North Dakota Honor Flight @ PO Box 265, Bismarck ND 58502 - www.westernndhf.org
Arrangements are conducted by Barbot Funeral Home, Beulah and Hazen.
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