Stephen Atkins Obituary Death -Tuesday, August 1, 2023, Stephen J. Atkins, 78, died of Parkinson’s. Lensing Funeral & Cremation Service, Iowa City, will hold visiting from 3 to 6 PM on Wednesday, August 9, 2023, with remarks at 5:30 PM. Steve was born July 12, 1945, in Dayton, Ohio, to Harry and Adamae (Rice) Atkins. In high school, he liked baseball and wanted to play in MLB. He learned public speaking skills in school plays.
Dayton University awarded him a bachelor’s (1969) and master’s (1974). Working in city hall’s mailroom in college and watching his fireman father inspired Steve to get a Masters in Public Administration. Steve oversaw communities in Escondido, CA, West Hartford, CN, Norton Shores, MI, Eau Claire, WI, and Schaumberg, IL before relocating to Iowa City in 1986 and served as city manager for 21 years, an exceptional career span in an intellectually engaged community. Steve handled the public response to a tornado, flood, and violence, as well as new sewer and water systems and downtown regeneration.
Most city employees liked his ability to listen, consider new ideas, and decide. Steve knew all 500 employees’ names and managed by going around. His door was always open. Steve gave work and tie-tying guidance to many. Matt Hayek, former mayor, called Steve a great mentor. He was met less than 40 years ago. Our families ate dinner. I had no clue he would teach me about local government after his career. His legacy was his community. When not working on public issues, Steve loved raising his daughter April and watching her grow up and build a family. Papa loves Olivia, his granddaughter. Drawing and reading American history were his tranquil pastimes.
Then baseball. Steve played City baseball catcher. He enjoyed playing baseball at North Side and Mormon Trek, but not in the MLB. Hobbies included serving on the Johnson County Community Foundation and United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties boards. Stephen is survived by his daughter, April; his son-in-law Rod Neuzil of Iowa City; April’s mother, Judy Atkins; his granddaughter, Olivia; his sister, Susan Atkins Dlouhy of Rockville, MD; his life partner, Karin Franklin; and nieces, nephews, and cousins He lost his parents, brother Michael, and cherished granddad Mark Rice. Education is important to Steve. He provided an educational fund for his granddaughter Olivia instead of flowers.