Thank Hugh for al­most 30 years

Prom­i­nent Bay Roberts busi­ness­man passes sud­denly, leaves legacy

The Compass - - OBITUARY - BYMELISSA JENK­INS SPE­CIAL TO THE COM­PASS

Hugh the hu­man­i­tar­ian

Love for pho­tog­ra­phy

Ful­fill­ing re­quests

Open­ing up about Hugh

Cather­ine

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.

melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

Sub­mit­ted photo

Hugh Atkin­son, owner of Atkin­son Flow­ers in Bay Roberts, passed away sud­denly May 28.

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