Robert G. Atkins, Commerce Department official, dies at 69

January 22, 2014
Robert G. Atkins
Commerce Dept. official

Robert G. Atkins, an international trade specialist at the Commerce Department and an Arlington community activist, died Dec. 9 at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. He was 68 and a resident of Arlington.

The cause was diabetes, said a friend, Keith Schiszik.

Mr. Atkins spent 24 years at the Commerce Department before retiring in 1996. He then became a self-appointed “citizen watchdog” of the Arlington County Board, attending every meeting and speaking out on issues ranging from the county budget to mal- or non-functioning streetlights.

On one occasion he denounced the county board for what he said was “spending too much money on ‘gold-plated bus shelters’ while cutting funding for children and the poor.”

Robert Gary Atkins was born in Auburn, N.Y. He graduated from American University in 1967 and received a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Kentucky in 1969.

He was a lobbyist for gay rights and for help for people with AIDS.

Survivors include his mother, Julia Atkins of Auburn.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Mr. Atkins died Jan. 9 and that he was 69.

— Bart Barnes

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