John Atterbury Jr. '45 November 9, 2023 4:55 PM updated: December 1, 2023 1:13 PM
John H. Atterbury, Jr.
December 3, 1923 - November 2, 2023
John H. Atterbury, Jr. was born in Knox City, Texas on December 3, 1923 to John H. Atterbury, Sr. and Juanita Burnett Atterbury. At the time he was born, his parents lived in Benjamin, Texas. His mother was from a ranching family, and his father owned a grocery store and was postmaster of Benjamin, Texas. Later John and his family moved to a cotton farm 10 miles west of Knox City, Texas. John Jr. attended Knox City High School, where he graduated as valedictorian.
John met the love of his life, Josephine Parish, through a cousin of hers in Haskell, Texas on January 26, 1941. John entered Texas A&M University in the fall of 1941, and Josephine entered Texas Woman's University the following fall. Their romance flourished through his hitchhiking trips to Denton and her attendance at frequent dances in College Station. John and Josephine were married on June 20, 1944.
John was active in Army ROTC in college, winning several awards. He was called to active duty in March 1943, and after basic training and officers candidate school, he was commissioned second lieutenant in June 1944. John and Josephine moved to Columbus, Georgia where John was assigned to the 71st Infantry Division at Fort Benning. That division was sent to the European Theater in January 1945, and Josephine returned to her hometown of Haskell, Texas, where their first child, Joan, was born.
The 71st Division participated in the last two campaigns of World War II, and John was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge and the Bronze Star for Valor. He was promoted to first lieutenant just before the end of the war and remained in the army of occupation until June 1946, when he received a terminal promotion to captain before his discharge in July 1946.
John returned to Texas A&M University in the fall of 1946 and received a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering. He accepted a position with Humble Oil and Refining Co., and he and his family moved to Baytown, Texas, where he was assigned to the maintenance engineering and inspection department of the Baytown refinery. Their second child, John III, was born in Baytown.
Once again returning to College Station in July 1949, John entered graduate school and received a master's degree in mechanical engineering. Afterwards, he returned to Humble Oil in the production department, where he held a number of positions, from roustabout to experimental engineering research. Their third child, Jim, was born in Houston.
In 1955, John was transferred to Humble Oil's Southwest Division in Corpus Christi, Texas, where their fourth child, Jane, was born. John spent the next 30 years with Exxon, as Humble Oil was renamed, in a number of positions including district reservoir engineer in the Kelsey and Kingsville districts. John represented Exxon before the Texas Railroad Commission many times as an expert witness. John was active in the Society of Petroleum Engineers and was chairman of the southwest section in 1970. He was also a member of the Texas and National Society of Professional Engineers.
John retired from Exxon in January 1986, and he and Josephine moved to College Station for the last time. They were active in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) wherever they lived. John served as an elder and Josephine as a deacon. John also served as board chairman in most of the churches they attended, including First Christian Church in Kingsville, Texas and First Christian Church in Bryan/College Station. John also taught Sunday school classes for 30 years, and the adult classroom at Southshore Christian Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, was named in his honor.
After moving to College Station for the final time, John and Josephine were involved in many A&M activities. They were members of the Former Students Association, the 12th Man Foundation, and the Brazos County A&M Club. For many years, they bought season tickets to football, basketball, baseball, and volleyball games. John also found time to continue an activity of great pleasure that started when he was five years old- riding horses. During his retirement, he owned a succession of 9 or 10 horses and he was recognized in his neighborhood by riding on a paint horse with a smile on his face.
John is preceded in death by his beloved wife of 70 years, Josephine; his parents; his sister, Valerie Atterbury Gardner; and his son, Jim '74 (wife Stacy).
He is survived by three of his children, Joan Atterbury, John H. Atterbury, III '70 (wife Mitsuko), Jane Atterbury Morgan; grandchildren, Lauren Atterbury '00, Bethan Atterbury, Julie Atterbury (husband Patrick), Jason Atterbury '10 (wife Kasey), Brittany Hand '16 (husband Cale), Jeremy Cunningham (wife Jeanine), and Leslie Kelly (husband Al); great-grandchildren, Grayson, Teddy, Grace, Landon, Lincoln, Hayes, James, Katlyn, and Maddy; great-great-grandchild, Alice Rose; and nephew, Max J. Gardner (wife Sharon).