Wayne Atherton, age 93, of Iola, Kansas, left to be with the Lord and joined his heavenly family on Monday, August 7, 2017 surrounded by his loving family at the University Of Kansas Medical Center.
Wayne was the seventh of ten children born to Eula Harold Atherton and Norah Lillian (Schultze) Atherton on December 3, 1923 in Adams, Oklahoma. He grew up in the panhandle of Oklahoma during the Dustbowl 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 of 1942 he enlisted in the US 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 of 1946. Wayne then enrolled in college at Panhandle State College where he met Lois Thompson. They were married on December 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 at Galesburg, Kansas 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 at Moran, Galena, and Nashville-Zenda. Wayne spent seven of those years as the director of the Urban/Rural School Program at Galena. In 1970 they moved to his current home near Gas, Kansas.
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 October 22, 1995. Wayne later married Debra Abram on July 11, 1998, in Miami, Oklahoma and they enjoyed 19 years of marriage. Wayne enjoyed carpentry and woodworking throughout his life. 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 would include his grandchildren in many of his activities, including working in the wood shop. 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 one who was 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; all nine of his siblings.
He is survived by his wife, Debbie, of Iola; daughter, Jonet Bland and husband, Melvin of Moran, Kansas; son, Tracy Atherton and wife, Cece of Overland Park, Kansas; and stepson, Chad Abram and wife, Leslie of Galena, Kansas; seven grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 AM, Saturday, August 12, 2017, at the Moran United Methodist Church, Moran. The family will greet friends from 7:00 – 8:00 PM, Friday, August 11, 2017, at the Moran United Methodist Church. Memorials are suggested to the Wayne Atherton memorial fund, to benefit The Healing Chair to provide lift chairs for breast cancer patients in recovery. Condolences may be left at www.feuerbornfuneral.com.