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Courtesy: Appalachian State Athletics
A Mountaineer Impact: John and Judy Atkinson
Courtesy: Appalachian State Sports Information
Release: Wednesday 05/17/2017 (ET)
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John and Judy Atkinson celebrate their 50th class reunion this year, but their love for Appalachian State University and Appalachian athletics began long before their Class of 1967 graduation.

Their ties to App and its campus date all the way back to the 1940s.

The Atkinsons recently made leadership gift in support of "A Mountaineer Impact, A Drive for Excellence," committed to scholarship endowments, facility enhancements and competitive excellence. The couple, who now reside in Wilmington, has been giving to Appalachian State since the early 1970s, a relationship that has truly spanned a lifetime.

Judy's father played football for App State in the 1940s, before and after World War II. While her father played football and finished his degree, Judy lived with her parents and younger sister, who was born in Boone, in what is now Justice Hall.

Judy and John were high school sweethearts who both chose to attend Appalachian, but it almost didn't turn out that way.

“I actually was going to go to another school and decided to go to Appalachian at the last minute,” Judy said. “I already had a room and roommate assigned elsewhere but decided at the last minute I wanted to go to Appalachian. In part, due to the fact that my mother and daddy met at App.”

“I was hoping to go to Appalachian, but it was touch-and-go as far as getting in,” John followed. “I was finally accepted but wanted to play basketball. I made the JV team my freshman year but didn't advance any further. I'm grateful I was able to go to college and get a degree. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college."

Judy and John became part of the last graduating class from Appalachian Teachers College. She worked as an elementary school teacher. He taught for a while, started a career in real estate, and eventually became President and CEO of St. James Plantation, a coastal North Carolina golf and retirement community.

Watching Appalachian State football blossom through the years has been a passion for the Atkinsons. They can recall games prior to App playing in what is now Kidd Brewer Stadium and have fond memories of recent accomplishments such as the Michigan win in 2007, the three consecutive FCS national championships and the Mountaineers' success at the FBS level.

“Everyone talks about the Michigan game, and I'm very proud of that,” John said. “But I think I was really amazed, and it's a credit to the athletic department, that we actually had a home game with Miami. That to me shows the up-and-coming program we are (at the top level) in football.”

While the football success captures headlines, Judy never forgets – even after 50 years – why she really came to Appalachian.

“While I'm so pleased with all the publicity and recognition App received when they won the championships and beat Michigan, I always felt I had received such a good education in my four years in Boone," she said. "I just always felt it was top-notch academically and was so impressed with the opportunities we had there.”

A Mountaineer Impact, A Drive for Excellence initiative is a vision of the Appalachian State Athletics department to provide resources for identified funding needs of over $60 million.  Comprehensive in nature, the initiative is designed to impact every Mountaineer student-athlete and sports program. A Mountaineer Impact, A Drive for Excellence will construct and enhance athletic facilities, provide critical scholarship support, impact the overall athletic experience for student-athletes and fans, while strengthening campus and community.  To make a gift in support of A Mountaineer Impact today, contact Suzette Mauney at 828-262-7670 or at mauneyss@appstate.edu.

-App State-

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