John Henry Atkinson, "Big John"
September 7, 1944-July 11, 2021
On July 11, surrounded by his wife, son, and daughter, John Henry Atkinson, passed away after
a battle with cancer. He was seventy-six years old.
John was a native Angeleno. He grew up in Palms and he went to nearby Alexander Hamilton High School. As a kid, John fell in love with Manhattan Beach, and he would often take the bus from Palms to Marine Street to spend the day at the beach. As a youth, he spent his summers on Catalina, and he passed his love for the island on to everyone he could.
John met the love of his life, Robbie, at UCLA
in 1965. In 1967, they purchased their home in
Manhattan Beach, and have lived there ever since, raising two children in the process.
John was a lifelong business owner. He worked for forty years in downtown Los Angeles, and in 2002-with his son-- he opened North End Caffe on the corner of 35th and Highland in Manhattan Beach.
Though he believed in hard work, John's priority was his family. He coached Little League, worked snack stands, and left work early whenever his kids had a game, a match, or an event. Big John loved the beach, body surfing, dogs and his 1964 MGB. He was passionate about history and was incredibly well-read. He was known for his strong bear claw handshake and for making his loud "sea lion" hoot at sporting events.
John was a kind, friendly man who loved chatting with friends, neighbors
and even strangers. People say that John always looked them in the eye and was genuinely interested in their lives. He was "old school." Based on the emotional outpouring of support the family has received, Big John impacted more lives than he would have realized.
We will miss you, Big John!
John Henry Atkinson is survived by his wife, Robbie; his son, John; his daughter, Tani, and his sisters Terri and Laurie.
Published by The Beach Reporter on Jul. 27, 2021.