A Celebration of Life service for Betty Jo Bearden Atkins, 73 of Cunningham, TN will be Saturday, January 2, 2021 at Sykes Funeral Home at 2:00 p.m. with Bro. Ted Denny and Bro. Brian Henley officiating. Burial will follow at Greenwood Cemetery next to her late husband, Donald W. Atkins, Sr. Visitation will be Saturday at 10:00 until the hour of service.
Betty Jo died peacefully Sunday, December 27, 2020 at her home. She was born May 1, 1947 in Cunningham, TN to the late James Oscar and Laura Frances Castleberry Bearden.
Betty Jo was owner of The Country Diner on Hwy 13. At age 14 she went to work there as a waitress. She graduated in 1965 from Montgomery Central High School and was selected “Most Daring” in her Senior class. She continued working at the restaurant and also worked at Jay Garment for a few years. In 1974 she bought the restaurant and worked 80 plus hours most weeks until her stroke on April 23, 2019. She married Donald W. Atkins, Sr., on January 15, 1979.
She loved to cook and talk to people. The restaurant was her life and her customers were like family to her. She never met a stranger and before you left, she would know your name, where you lived, worked, and went to church. If you didn’t go to church or have a church home, she wouldn’t hesitate to invite you to hers. She was a faithful member of Bethel Baptist Church and when her stroke made it impossible to go, she would watch it on Facebook.
A few years ago, The Country Diner was featured on Tennessee Crossroads which led to many new friends and customers. Last year the Central Civitan honored her by dedicating The Lone Oak Picnic to her. Betty Jo was a great supporter of her community. For years she provided free Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of people and invited everyone she saw.
She was a collector of angels, dolls and pins. She wore pins on her work dress uniform. She would ask her customers to bring her a pin or angel back from their vacations. During her last months, a pillow of her favorite pins was put together by one of her caregivers and an afghan given by another caregiver will go along with her to her resting place.
She is preceded in death by her parents, husband, brothers William, Daniel, Aubrey, Bobby, Norris Bearden, and Charles Castleberry. Sister Mary Elizabeth “Pete” McWhorter. Survivors include brothers Bennie (Barbara) Bearden, Donald Ray (Elaine) Bearden, sisters Frances (Eddie) Hodges, Wilma Faye (Larry) Breeden, all of Cunningham, and sister-in-law Mary Bearden of Cleveland, Ohio, numerous nieces, nephews, and other family members.
Pallbearers will be Keith Bearden, Sheila Thompson, Roger Dale Cato, Chase Bearden, Scott Bearden, and Trey Bearden. Honorary pallbearer is Landon Ashby.
The family would like to greatly thank the wonderful caregivers that were with Betty Jo and made it possible for her to stay at home throughout her battle with the effects the stroke caused. Brittney Ashby, Delores Clements, Michelle Hagewood, Michelle Newman, Darlene Shaw, and Amber White. We will never forget the love and kindness you all showed Betty Jo. Many thanks to the wonderful staff at Avalon Hospice for their care and support. Special thanks to nurse Donna Davis for making things easier during this difficult time.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Bethel Baptist Church 2301 Hwy. 13 Palmyra, TN 34142 or The Cunningham Volunteer Fire Dept. P.O. Box 48 Cunningham, TN 37052.
The family is requesting that all attendees wear a mask.