Atkins was born in Detroit and earned degrees from Spelman College and Atlanta University. She lived in DeKalb County with Herman Kelly Atkins, her husband of 37 years. If someone wanted to find her, they knew where to go. Atkins lived in the same neighborhood and in the same house for decades.
"She held this corner down," said Royal.
Atkins was a former teacher with the Atlanta Public Schools and at various times taught science at the old Bass High School, Alonzo A. Crim Open Campus High School and Benjamin E. Mays High School. Royal said her mother was proud of her job, which also included time as a substitute teacher.
"She wanted to stay within her community and to make sure they [students] were given the best education possible," she said. "Since she was a lifelong educator, she wanted to make sure that every student she touched had a fair chance at learning and being equal with any other graduate who was trying to go on to higher learning."
Royal said her mother kept in touch with several former students.
Her work in the community, though, didn't stop at the classroom door. She also volunteered with several groups including the Belvedere Civic Club, her church and Our House, which provides services for homeless children.
Atkins and her granddaughter, Brijaana Royal, were very close.
"She felt like it was part of her responsibility to give a helping hand," Brijaana said. She and her grandmother would talk about the children she worked with at Our House and how much she enjoyed the work.
She also loved attending cultural events around metro Atlanta and church.
At Friendship Baptist, Atkins was known as the "Hat Lady," her daughter said. She said her mother had a hat to match just about every outfit. She said some people could find their places in church by following her. "All they had to do was find the ‘Hat Lady' and go three rows back and to the left," she said laughing.
In addition to her husband and daughter, Atkins is survived by grandchildren Brijaana Royal and Stacy Travis Evans Jr.