The Shafter Press - Serving the community since 1922

OBITUARY: J.C. Atkinson

Dec. 25, 1923 – July 15, 2019


J.C. Atkinson

J.C. (Jay) Atkinson was born on Christmas Day in 1923 and passed peacefully into eternity on July 15, 2019. Jay was the 7th of 11 children born to Elijah and Maggie Atkinson of Parker, Okla.

Jay was still living at home in Oklahoma when his father, a Free Will Baptist preacher and sharecropper, passed away at a young age. Jay quit high school to help take care of the family. In 1942, and the family moved to Wasco, where his older siblings were already living and working. He obtained his high school diploma from Bakersfield Evening High School in 1956.

Jay served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska, during World War II. When he returned home after the war, he met the love of his life, Bernice Mayberry. The couple married in 1948 and recently celebrated 71 years of marriage. Together they raised three sons in Shafter and enjoyed camping and trailering with friends and family all over the United States and Canada. Jay and Bernice were especially proud of their six grandchildren and rarely missed a game or special event in their lives.

Jay was an amazing man who served as a Shafter police officer, worked for Harold Weins at Shafco Lumber, owned Say Kern Plumbing and retired in 1986 as the plumbing specialist for the Kern County Building Department.

Jay was a natural servant leader who served for many years on the elder board at Valley Bible Church in Shafter (First Baptist Church), the board of Youth for Christ, and the Richland School Board. He served the community of Shafter as a planning commissioner and chairman of the City of Shafter Planning Commission, as well as a city councilman and mayor of Shafter.

Jay is survived by his loving wife, Bernice; brother Tim Atkinson (Edna); brother-in-law Bob Hall; sisters-in-law Margaret Bynum and Jeanne Mayberry; three sons, Dennis Atkinson (Marlene), Melvin Atkinson and Darrell Atkinson (Susie); daughter in law Darci Atkinson; two grandsons, Ryan Atkinson and Jared Atkinson (Dziko); four granddaughters, Melanie Whitaker (Coby), Brooke Ramirez (Eddie), Kelly Atkinson and Janie Slegers (Trevor); and two great grandchildren, Jane Slegers and Carson Whitaker.

Jay came to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior at an early age and lived his life accordingly. His Christian walk impacted everyone he met or knew. To know him was to love him. He earned the love and respect of his family as well as his community. We have no doubt he was welcomed into heaven with these words: "Well done, my good and faithful servant"!

We would like to thank Hoffmann Hospice for the compassionate care they provided to J.C. and our family. Everyone was so kind and helpful as they kept him comfortable and helped lift our burden during Jay's transition from this life to eternity in Heaven.

A celebration of Jay's life is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 31, at Valley Bible Church, 350 Pine St. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either Valley Bible Church of Shafter or Youth for Christ, P.O. Box 763, Bakersfield 93302.

Please send condolences to the family and sign the family's guestbook at


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