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