Antique Vintage 14

Melissa Idella Smith Atkinson

October 19, 1919 ~ January 24, 2021 (age 101)

Obituary Image


Melissa Idella Smith Atkinson passed on January 24, 2021.  Due to Covid-19 restrictions, private Memorial Services to be held on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 11:00am from Cascade United Methodist Church, will be live-streamed using the link:

The Reverend Dr. Kevin Murriel, Sr. Pastor, officiating,  the Reverend Dr. Walter Kimbrough, Eulogist.  Interment will follow the service at Westview Cemetery, 1680 Westview Dr. SW, Atlanta, Georgia 30310.

On October 19, 1919 in the tiny town of Madras, Georgia, on the outskirts of Atlanta, little Melissa Idella Smith became the fourth of ten children born to Coweta County farmer, Samuel Summers Smith and his schoolteacher wife, Amy Beatrice Harrison Smith.  

Born after her older siblings Harrison, Winnie and Nellie Ruth in the large, loving Harrison-Smith family, Melissa would later become Big Sister to Venettie, an unnamed baby brother who did not survive, Mason, David, Carolyn Frances and Melvin.  Blessed with exceptionally long life, Melissa would outlive her parents and all of her siblings, becoming an eyewitness to 101 years of history.  She died peacefully in her sleep on January 24, 2021.

When Melissa was born, postage was 2 cents. Most people did not own a car or have a telephone, electricity or indoor plumbing. Women were not allowed to vote and only a true daredevil would ever consider trying to cross an ocean by airplane.  But in her lifetime, Melissa would live to enjoy traveling the world by air, car and cruise ship, experience television, refrigeration, computers, air conditioning, the Internet, cell phones and the Civil Rights Movement.  She lived long enough to proudly cast her vote to help elect the first African American President of the United States, and another for a woman of African American and Asian American heritage who became the nation's first female Vice President.

Bright and energetic, little Melissa started school at age four in Palmetto, Georgia. When the family moved to Cascade Heights in Atlanta, she attended Philadelphia Elementary School.  As a teenager, she walked nearly three miles to Booker T. Washington High School everyday, then walked back home to help with light farm chores, the younger children and then study, while her Mama Smith was in the kitchen, making some simple, delicious homemade meal for twelve, with fresh biscuits or cornbread and meat and vegetables right out of the yard.

After graduation, Melissa attended the Lincoln Institute of Nursing and Atlanta Tailoring School.  She divided most of her many hardworking years between those two careers.  For decades, she worked as a tailor for the US Department of Defense, outfitting the brave men and women in the US Army and Navy in coats and khakis. She later joined the staffs of Clayton General Hospital and Sadie Mays Health and Rehabilitation Center as a Licensed Practical Nurse. In her later years, she would care for the priests at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta, where she worked as a receptionist and house coordinator until her retirement.

Just before the outbreak of World War II, Melissa married Navy man Reuben Brant Cox. To this union was born her only child, Charles, the beloved father of grandchildren, Nicholas and Ramona. Both her husband and son preceded her in death. She raised Charles' son and stepson, Nicholas and Keith, as her own, on her own.  In later life, Melissa met and married Atlanta contractor and designer, George Atkinson, who also preceded her in death.

As the granddaughter of Fairburn's legendary Methodist minister and community leader, the Reverend Charles Cosby Harrison, Melissa grew up comfortably active in both the church and the community.  As a young woman, she attended Atlanta's Centenary United Methodist Church with her family. In early 1974 she became one of the very early members of Cascade United Methodist Church, where she remained an active member for nearly half a century.  Melissa worked in The Celebration of Life Ministry, was a Communion Steward, a member of the Torchbearers and active on both the Stewardess and Missions Boards.  She was an involved member of the ROSA (Reaching Out to Senior Adults) Caregiving Ministry and a volunteer for the American Red Cross. She received numerous awards and commendations for her devoted church work and community service.

Always on the go and anxious to know the facts about the world around her, Melissa loved her daily newspaper and nightly newscasts, keeping up with current events, sports, cooking, music, traveling and fine clothes.  She loved nothing more than spending time with family members or a nice chat with friends. She was an active member of QLS, Quality Living Services, where she loved getting together with other seniors, attending Empowerment Meetings, Bible Study, traveling and modeling in the center's fashion shows. She also thoroughly enjoyed her monthly get-togethers with the Hope Works Ministry for a lively, Widows' Prayer Meeting, luncheon and warm fellowship.

Melissa's large family and loving friends will always remember her amazing memory, insights, wry wit and the many blessings of her 101 year long life.  We thank you, Melissa, for your remarkable strength, perseverance, knowing smile and your spirit of life and love.  We thank you for a lifetime of being a wonderful and loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and Aunt, a diligent worker, dedicated church member, dependable volunteer and loyal friend.  You have helped fill our lives with love and laughter.  We celebrate your 101 years of living, learning, teaching, sharing and caring.  We salute your lifetime of genuine love, hard work and devoted service to your family, your friends, your church and your community.  We thank you for the wisdom, insight and humor that came with the blessing of Time. You bore witness to a lifetime of predictable repetition and unpredictable change. And you so often reminded us of the value of the precious things that remain the same through time.

Special gratitude and love to the wonder workers at Sassy Seniors Assisted Living, under the able direction of the amazing Ms. Marilyn Alcendor.  For the last five years of her life, Sassy Seniors was Melissa's home and you were such an important part of her family. Thank you also to the kind caregivers at Country Gardens. Her time with you was quite short, but deeply appreciated.  God Bless You, Always.

                                                                                                               -Felicia Jeter Randolph


"Beyond the Gate at the End of the Road

 We each will find our Final Rest.

And we draw comfort from the thought

That our loving Creator always knows best."


 "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."  Psalm 121 KJV

To send flowers to Melissa's family, please visit our floral store.


February 2, 2021

11:00 AM
Cascade United Methodist Church
3144 Cascade Road, Southwest
Atlanta, Georgia

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