John R. Atkinson, whose career in the dairy industry included a position at Sorrento Cheese in Buffalo, died Jan. 13 in an Edgewater, Fla., hospice facility after a lengthy illness. He was 81.
Born in Runnemede, N.J., Mr. Atkinson was a veteran of the Marine Corps.
He worked in the dairy industry for more than two decades, including several years at Dairylea Cooperative in Syracuse, where he was a vice president of sales and marketing; Sorrento Cheese Co. in Buffalo, where he was division sales manager; and at Suprema Specialties in Paterson, N.J., where he was vice president of marketing development.
Mr. Atkinson, a former resident of Lancaster, retired in 2000 and moved to Florida in 2003.
He was a former director and president of the Food Industry Executive Council. He had been named Supplier of the Year by the New York State Food Merchants Association and was recognized as Salesman of the Year in the Philadelphia District of Kraft Inc. Dairy Group.
After retiring, Mr. Atkinson became a full-time traveler, visiting 49 of the 50 United States -- excluding Hawaii. He loved the rodeo and was a bronc rider in his younger days; he carried his last card from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, dated 1955, with him at all times.
Survivors include his wife, the former Mary M. Curry; and three sons, John III, Kerry and Scott.
A memorial service will be held Jan. 28 in Florida.