Mark Guy Atkinson
March 20, 1954 ~ July 30, 2014
Mark Guy “Big Mark” Atkinson, 60, of Okanogan, WA, succumbed after a long-suffering battle with COPD at 8:37 a.m. on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. He was surrounded by his wife and children as he drew his last breath to freedom. In the days before he passed, Mark was loved and comforted by family, many friends and the awesome Health Care Team at Mid-Valley Hospital. He was happy, peaceful and unafraid.
Mark was born March 20, 1954, in Walnut Creek, CA. His parents were William Howard Atkinson and Carole Elaine Christenson. Mark also lived in Utah, Nevada, Oregon and Cashmere. He served in the United States Air Force from 1971 to 1973. Mark worked many years as a trucker; was manager for Royal Crown Beverage Co. in Salt Lake City, and operated a chipper and pulled green chain in Peshastin, WA. He was partner in a rock-and-roll club in Salt Lake City. Mark found his true vocation as a youth substance abuse counselor. He worked from 1988 to 1994 at Valley General Hospital and Circle S Recovery Ranch in Leavenworth as senior counselor. He served on many wilderness expeditions for young people challenged with substance and legal problems. He received an AA degree from Wenatchee Valley College. Mark was chapter President of a clean and sober motorcycle club dedicated to sharing the message of recovery in detention centers, group homes and correctional facilities.
Mark served as a youth substance abuse counselor and court service officer for the Okanogan County Juvenile Department from 1995 to 2013, when he retired for health reasons. He directed and taught the Okanogan County Aggression Replacement Program from 2003 to his retirement. In a ten-year period, Mark facilitated 44 ten week ART courses that included over 400 young clients. He served state-wide as an ART master trainer and consultant. Mark was an enthusiastic and dedicated member of a drug and alcohol addiction recovery program. He shared the gift of recovery with hundreds of friends, who became his other family. He recently celebrated 25 years clean and sober.
Mark unabashedly indulged in a lifelong enthusiasm for loud rock-and-roll, blues, classic cars, motorcycles and hopeless cases.
Mark is survived by his brother, Bob Atkinson; his wife of 26 years, Tammy of Okanogan; three daughters, Elaine Clark of Okanogan, Tanisha Ince (Dave) of Omak, and Holly Atkinson (Josh) of Wenatchee; son, Derrick (Charleen) of Spangle, WA; ten grandchildren, Maura and Declan of Susanville, CA, Kristin and Rachael of Spangle, WA, Dartagnan, Phillip and Elidai of Omak, Cecilia and Jayde of Okanogan, and Killian of Wenatchee; his first wife, Linda Asher of Okanogan; and his spoiled rotten cat, Pearl. Mark was preceded in death by his parents; a brother; two sisters; and his eldest son, Duane Helsel of Susanville, CA.
An informal gathering, Barbecue and Potluck to honor Mark’s legacy will be held at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, August 24, 2014, at Good Farms, U.S. Highway 97, Okanogan. A recovery meeting will follow.