Thank Hugh for almost 30 years
Prominent Bay Roberts businessman passes suddenly, leaves legacy
Hugh the humanitarian
Love for photography
Opening up about Hugh
Since the shop opened in 1985, Hugh handled the business aspects of the shop while Jane was the florist.
Catherine, who started as a wrapper and now does floral arrangements, said if a customer requested a product and they did not have it, Hugh would go out of his way to get it for them.
In 2004, the shop began selling corsages with fibre-optic lights, something Catherine said was the “weirdest thing ever.”
Hugh wanted the customers to have what they wanted, and they wanted the unusual light-up corsages, she explained.
The shop also made bouquets every year for dance companies, and Hugh made sure each one had a butterfly ornament in it.
Jane said he liked to change details on the arrangements every year so repeat dancers could get a different keepsake. This year the butterfly could be worn as a hair clip.
did not always
A prominent businessman from Bay Roberts who operated a flower business in the town for nearly 30 years passed away suddenly on May 28.
Hugh Atkinson, owner and operator of Atkinson Flowers in the Bay Roberts Mall, was 56 years-of-age.
Family members say he died of a heart condition that was previously undiagnosed.
In an interview with The Compass last week, Hugh’s wife and business partner, Jane, recalled how they got together.
She was standing among a group of females dressed in white gowns during the grand march of the 1974 Ascension Collegiate graduation ceremony. Many of the guys and girls did not know each other, but were partnered up.
At six-foot-five, Hugh towered over the petite young woman he was partnered with, five-foot-two Jane.
“I remember looking up and seeing the biggest man I have ever seen,” Jane said with a laugh, adding her first memory of Hugh is his “huge feet.”
They got married four years later and soon after had two sons — Richard and Jonathan. June 30 would have been the couple’s 35th wedding anniversary.
Jane said Hugh was a very modest and generous person, and rarely took credit for the donations he made.
“A lot of people didn’t know he gave to (different organizations),” Jane noted. “But he would never turn anyone down.”
The Atkinson’s gave bouquets every week to five 50-plus clubs in the Bay Roberts area.
“If we didn’t have enough flowers we’d give them plants,” Jane explained. “If we didn’t have enough plants we’d give them chocolates or candies. We always gave them something.”
Catherine Deering, a six-year employee at the shop, said there was a rule Hugh created that she always followed.
“His policy was when someone stood next to the (candy) showcase, go get a glove and give them a treat,” she said.
He has given to many organizations and causes over the years, including the Trinity Conception Placentia Health Foundation, Tim Hortons Camp Day, the Missed Blueberry Pageant in Brigus and many fundraisers for people in need, including cancer patients.
“Hugh would always say, ‘there is always someone worse off than we are so let’s give them something,’” Jane said.
Every Sunday, the only day off the Atkinson’s had during the week, Hugh would take Jane on a drive to take photos, she recalled. It was one of his passions.
She would never argue with him over it, even though, she added, she would sometimes just want to relax and stay home.
“I thought maybe we wouldn’t have the chance in 10 years so I couldn’t say no,” Jane admitted. “So I bit my tongue and did it. And I enjoyed it.”
The flower shop has magnets, key chains and postcards printed with photos by Hugh.
see eye-to-eye with Hugh, and had no problem standing up to him on occasion.
“We had our words, then we came in and laughed,” she noted.
Catherine believes Hugh left behind quite a legacy.
“He was a businessman but he put his heart and soul into the store.”
When Hugh died, the store did not close because, Catherine said, “he would have wanted it that way.”
Hugh was not a very verbal person when it came to communicating his appreciation for Catherine’s work, but just before he died he spoke with her one-on-one.
“He told me, ‘I’ve never said this but you go beyond the call of duty, and you do it with great pride,’” she said softly. “‘I know I should have done it a long time ago but I appreciate all your hard work.’”
“I always wanted Hugh to tell me, and that day, he told me.”
On the day Hugh died, Catherine said she waited for an hour-and-a-
He was a businessman but he put his heart and
soul into the store. — Catherine Deering, six-year employee of Atkinson Flowers
half for him to walk through the door of the shop. He never came. She knew he was gone, but couldn’t come to terms with his loss.
Jane has many stories she will fondly remember about her husband, but none as strong as her memories of who he was as a person. She said they had a great marriage, he was a great father, and they loved each other very much.
“He went too soon,” she said.
Hugh Atkinson, owner of Atkinson Flowers in Bay Roberts, passed away suddenly May 28.