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Published in Boston Globe on May 1, 2023
ATKINSON, Meredith (Owen) Age 75, of Norwell, MA, passed away peacefully on January 18, 2023, at the home of her daughter in Truckee, CA, from complications of ALS. She was preceded by George Atkinson, her husband of 49 years.
She is survived by her family: daughter, Rebecca Anderson (Andy); son, Geoffrey Atkinson (Whitney); grandchildren, Huck Anderson, Georgina Atkinson, and Francis Frost Atkinson; brothers, Clark Owen (Joanne) and Richard Owen (Chris); and many other family and friends. Meredith was born in Charlotte, NC, on February 28, 1947, the daughter of Barbara Clark Dexter and Randolph Owen and the older sister of Clark and Richard Owen.
She spent her childhood in Clinton, NC, until 7th grade when she, her mother, and brothers moved north to Massachusetts to live with their beloved uncle, Charles Clark. The family eventually settled in Scituate, MA. With a single working mother, Meredith was more than an older sister to Clark and Richard, who were eight and ten years younger respectively. At Scituate High School, she was editor of the school newspaper, played tennis, and even joined the boys wrestling team as a statement to the coach, who was her teacher. She won every match that year by concession. Meredith graduated from Scituate High School in 1965, and went on to graduate from Hood College in 1969, where she met her lifelong friend, Gail Davis, and played lacrosse. She received a Masters from Middlebury College, Bread Loaf School of English, in 1974. Meredith met her husband, George, at Hingham Bathing Beach where he was a lifeguard. They were married on July 1, 1972, at Hingham Congregational Church, and had two children four years apart, Rebecca and Geoffrey. She put her successful English teaching career on hold to create a beautiful upbringing for her children full of joy, education, outdoors, sports, gardening, and travel.
Meredith and George resided in Norwell, MA, for more than 40 years and were a beloved staple within the community. They enjoyed many close friends, including the Garlands, Shutes and Studleys, who shared interests, kids the same age, and the willingness to travel. Some of her best memories were spent traveling across the country in the summers with the Garlands with a popup Coleman camper going from National Park to National Park and cross country ski vacations at Craftsbury, VT. Professionally, Meredith was a highly respected high school English teacher who impacted countless students’ lives. She taught in the Weymouth schools, Ursuline Academy, Northeastern University, and Notre Dame Academy and eventually found her perfect job as the head of the English Department at Norwell High School. She was famous for connecting with her students, whether they were scholars or potential dropouts, and changing their lives for the better.
Meredith was a master of poetry and literature. Having taught hundreds of students, she eventually taught many of those students’ parents with her own literature class for adults at the James Library in Norwell. A culmination of her teaching career was being voted by her students to be Norwell High School’s Class of 2010’s graduation speaker. She read Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” which she had taught countless times and became her grandson’s (Francis Frost) namesake. She then went on to finish by singing a Meredith-rewritten rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “A Natural Woman,” to which she received a standing ovation. Meredith poured her heart and soul into making the lives of her family, friends, and students better and more successful.
She possessed wit, intelligence, perseverance, humor, love, and always a twinkle in her eye. She was a devoted and adoring grandmother who spent countless hours reading to her grandchildren. She loved her husband, brothers, children, grandchildren, friends and family with a force that everyone recognized. She was, as one friend put it, “one hell of a woman.”
A Memorial Service for Meredith Atkinson will be held at 1 pm, on May 20, 2023, at First Parish Church of Norwell, followed by a reception at the James Library. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Compassionate Care ALS at: https://ccals.org/in_memory_of/meredith-atkinson/