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Gary Stephen Atwood

November 30, 1950 May 14, 2020
Gary Stephen Atwood
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Obituary for Gary Stephen Atwood

Gary Stephen Atwood passed away on May 14, 2020 at his home in Nampa, Idaho after years long struggle with heart failure.

Gary was born to Roy (Ray) and Lottie (Richmond) Atwood on November 30, 1950 in Sacramento, California. He spent his youth living in California around the Bay area and Los Angeles. He spent many summers at his grandparents farm in Empire, California with his cousins, picking peaches, swinging on a rope from the hay loft, playing on the railroad tracks, and eating homemade ice cream and peach and blackberry pie.

Gary enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp on Jan 28, 1969 as a Field Radio Operator and was discharged February 3, 1976.

He married his current spouse Barbara (Bobbie Foster) on September 19, 2006 in Winnemucca, Nevada

Gary spent most of his career as a long-haul truck driver. After a back injury, he returned to school, received an Associate’s Degree and worked as a respiratory therapist, but ultimately went back to his first love of driving that truck until his health precluded it in 2010.

By the time of his retirement, he had visited all but one of the 50 states, a dream he had expressed to his parents as a very young boy. In 2017 he was able to cross Alaska off of his bucket list and complete that 50 state dream. He then joked that the U.S. should make Puerto Rico a state so he could make one more trip.

Gary practiced no particular religion, though he was a man of deep faith.

Gary loved to play golf when his health would allow it, he had a life-long love for the San Francisco 49ers, and he loved dinner and card nights with friends Chuck and Diane Marshall; but he really LOVED to travel. He had a deeply engaged travel bug and he and Bobbie took many trips, some of the most memorable for the two of them were Hawaii, Scotland, Ireland and Alaska. He took great pleasure, as well, in taking the grandkids on the week-long summer adventures to Yellowstone, North Rim Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. He and Bobbie also took many weekend adventures around Idaho and Oregon with the grandkids almost all educational but full of fun family time.

Gary belonged to a heart failure support group that met once a month, and had many friends in the Boise Pie Night Support Group whose whole purpose was to support the patient with organ transplants or heart failure and their caregivers. We have not been able to hold these meetings since the first of the year and he was missing his friends so much.

Gary was always a prankster, but he was also kind and loving. Always a conversation with the neighbors if they were outside together, words of advice or a helping hand when he could, or a tool if he couldn’t. That included complete strangers in the grocery store. He never met a stranger, and would talk to a stop sign if it would talk back. The dear neighbors Jenn and Jared likened him to Mr. Wilson on Tool Time, a very apt description.

His sister Alondra shares: ‘When Bobbie asked me to share one of my favorite memories of my brother, I had years to go through. Do I have a special memory of one of our trips to the beach? Like the time he bought me a raft on the way to the beach and he retrieved it from the older kid who “commandeered” it? Or would it be one of our trips, with our sister and her family, to play in the snow for the day? Or the first time I spent the night at his new place after he moved out and introduced me to Captain Crunch? How about when he took me on my first (and last) ski day for my 9th birthday? So very many more memories I have and the running theme in all of them was love. In every moment I flashed back what stood out the most was how much my big brother loved his baby sister. And that is the best memory anyone can ask for. I love you Brother Dear.’

Gary’s daughter Kristy shares: ‘What can you say that can encapsulate what a father means to a daughter? Can words possibly be enough? He was my comfort growing up through all my trials, the lap I curled in when I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 9, and when my mother died when I was 22. All my friends in high school called him dad, and he could find me wherever I was, at any given time. I had stayed the night at a friend of a friend's house after an impromptu party, and he managed to call me in the morning at that house to see if I was going to join my parents for church or not. Thankfully he was understanding when I declined, confessing I was probably still drunk!

I used to love bologna sandwiches, and my Dad started making my lunches in 4th grade. As they were my favorite, this is what he made me with love each day, for the entirety of the school year. To this day I still can't eat a bologna sandwich, or think of them without a tiny turn of the stomach, the memory of that sweet gesture has always made me smile and is one of my favorite stories to tell about my Dad. Another is of my favorite dinner he would make while I was growing up, Cransafarbs. Never heard of it? I hadn't either until the day he made it for us. When I asked what the tasty thing was in front of me, he matter-of-factly told me it was Cransafarbs. I asked for it often and it was always a treat as Mom never made it, only Dad. It wasn't until I was grown with kids of my own did he tell me what I'd been eating over the years was nothing more than goulash. It may have been his longest running gag!

On one of our many Daddy/Daughter dates over the years, he took me to see The Jungle Book in the cinema. I remember him comforting an inconsolable 7 year old me and promising Baloo was, in fact, not dead and we had such a grand day in the end. He taught me to ride a bike and fly a kite. When I wanted to join Campfire Girls, he became our leader and I was so proud it was *my* Dad everyone looked up to. After a fishing trip where I had caught the *biggest* catfish and decided on the way home to name him and declare the fish my pet and the thing I loved most in the world. He took the brunt of my anger when my newest pet had to be killed in order for us to have dinner that evening. He was always patient with me and helped me work through my emotions and whatever problems I was having, even when the problem was him. You don't find many fathers like that, and I was a very lucky girl.

Once I had children, they became his world. I loved watching him with them, growing through the years together. One of their favorite things was to listen to their Grampy talk about his tomatoes, watching his face light up when describing each different species and how each plant was doing. It made them happy to see him so excited. He took great joy in getting them to help out with his many gardening projects. When they were little and he was still driving truck, sometimes a load would take him near enough he could come visit. Sometimes this meant it was after the kids had gone to bed, but I would still pull them out all sleep tousled so Grampy could have his cuddles. All three of them even came home from the hospital after birth wearing the same San Francisco 49ers jersey onsie that he had bought. I love that my kids were able to foster such a close relationship with him, and will have so many great memories of their all too brief time with their Grampy.

We may not have always seen eye to eye, but never once did I have to question whether or not I was loved. I love you Daddy and wish I could hear you call me Bratsky and feed me Cransafarbs one last time.’

Gary is survived by his spouse Bobbie, his daughter Kristy Jones, former son-in-law Corbin (Crystal) Jones, step sons Bernie and Sean Haughey step daughter Heather Hamilton, sisters Alondra Miller and Michele Freeman, brother-in-law Jack (Betha) Foster. His Grandchildren who were his world: Tiana (Justin) Miles; Paige, Gaven and Bristol Jones; Izayah Smith; Raesandra Hamilton; and Scarlett Haughey and Great Grandson: Jaxson Miles, and numerous generations of nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Gary was preceded in death by his mother Lottie and father Ray, daughter Holly, former spouse Mary, and sister Denise Williams, sisters-in-law Charlotte Foster and Alice Darr, brother-in-law Victor Foster, and many Aunts and Uncles.

Memorial service will be held in California when his daughter is able to return from England. Go rest high on that mountain, Gary; and soar with the Eagles.

In lieu of flowers the family request you make a donation to your favorite charity in his memory.

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