Dr. Basil E. Atkinson Jr., former president of Judson-Atkinson Candies, Inc., passed away Monday in his San Antonio home. He was 90.
Born in Lufkin, Texas, on Aug. 28, 1926, Atkinson began serving Atkinson Candy, the Chick-O-Stick manufacturer founded by his father, Basil Sr., in the early 1930s. He started by riding in route trucks and helping sell candy, the National Confectioners Association (NCA) reported. He also swept floors and dipped treats in chocolate at the factory.
Basil Jr. enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II, serving on the Marine Phoenix, a vessel used to transport troops to Japan and Asia, the Lufkin Daily News reported. He received an honorable discharge in 1944. Six years later, he and his wife, Francis Hall Atkinson, eloped on June 22.
Basil Jr. studied medicine at the Southwestern Medical School, University of Texas-Dallas. Upon graduating, he and his family moved to Lufkin, where he opened a medical practice. Basil Jr., known as “The Doctor,” made house calls and treated patients through the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In 1965, Basil Jr. went to work for Atkinson Candy, helping his parents and brother build the business. He was named executive v.p. five years later.
In 1983, Basil Jr. and his children, Eric Atkinson, Amy Atkinson and Rinda Atkinson Miller, purchased Judson Candy Co. in San Antonio, renaming it Judson-Atkinson Candies, Inc. The Atkinsons maintained the separate companies until its closure in 2011.
Long involved in the confectionery industry, Basil Jr. was a 2005 Candy Industry Kettle Award nominee and received the NCA’s Doc Reed Silver Candy Dish Award in 2010. He was inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame in 2011.
Basil Jr. was also involved in his community. He hosted Angelina County’s first Republican primary election in his garage and served as a Lufkin city councilman and mayor pro tempore.
A world traveler who enjoyed horseback riding, fast cars and cocktails, Basil Jr. also held a co-patent with Mobil Oil for packaging technologies.
Basil Jr. is survived by his children, Dennis, Rinda, Eric and Amy; 10 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and his wife, Francis.
Funeral services are scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 22, at the Gipson Funeral Home in Lufkin. Interment will follow in the Garden of Memories Memorial Park in Lufkin.