Full Name: Verna D. Atkins
Date of Death: Saturday, July 2, 2022
Dr. Verna Atkins of Wayne, N.J. and New York City died on July 2 at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, N.J. after a brief illness. She was 84. Born in Paterson, N.J. in 1937, she was the daughter of Sadie (Kleiner) and Max Atkins and the sister of Dr. Jack Atkins of Wayne who predeceased her by three months. In her sophomore year at Eastside High School, Paterson, she was selected by the Ford Foundation to participate, at age 16, in its Ford Scholars Program which placed gifted students in universities prior to graduating from high school. Through the Ford Scholarship she attended the University of Wisconsin and participated in its innovative “Integrated Liberal Studies” program, majoring in French and graduating in 1957. At Wisconsin she formed lifelong friendships with fellow Ford Scholar students.
Deciding to pursue a medical career, she enrolled in the pre-med program at Rutgers University and then earned her medical degree at New York University in 1962. She completed her residency in pathology at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan. Dr. Atkins worked as a pathologist at Peekskill (N.Y.) Hospital and then at Holy Name Medical Center.
She is survived by her nephew David Atkins and his wife Virginia Hutch of Stamford, Connecticut and by nephew Bobby Atkins and his wife Elizabeth Hayt of New York City, and their son Hunter of Houston, Texas.
Gentle and generous in spirit, Verna relentlessly assumed the best in everyone. Keen on the ballet, opera, theatre, and the art museums of New York City she remained open to exploring any expression of shared humanity embodied in art. She was an avid supporter of organizations promoting social justice and racial equality and tolerance. Studiously and patiently encouraging legions of Atkins and Kleiner cousins of all generations and in all locales was a life-long passion. Her extraordinary love and devotion to family and non-family alike was reciprocated.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Verna’s memory to Planned Parenthood. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/get-involved/other-ways-give