In Memoriam – Captain H.C. Atwood (Hank)

FLORENCE, MA – Captain H.C. Atwood (Hank) died peacefully at home on January 3, surrounded by love and his family. He was born on October 10, 1932, and he grew up on Cape Cod in Wellfleet, MA, graduating from Wellfleet High School in 1950. His parents were Henry and Edith Atwood. Henry Sr. was a scallop fisherman, entrepreneur, and Wellfleet Town Selectman, and he served as Chairman of Wellfleet’s 200th Anniversary celebration in 1963. Edith taught three generations of 1st and 2nd graders in the Wellfleet Elementary School.

Captain Atwood attended Brown University under the Naval ROTC scholarship program and graduated in 1954 with a degree in International Relations. He was commissioned Ensign, United States Navy on the day of his graduation. On his first deployment as a midshipman, he met his wife, Shirley, the dazzling daughter of an Army Colonel, at Fort Monroe, VA. They married April 30, 1955, at Carlisle Barracks, PA.

During his 30-year Navy career, Captain Atwood served on both coasts including Kodiak, Alaska. He commanded five ships, with his final command at sea being USS NASSAU (LHA 4), a 40,000-ton amphibious assault ship carrying two squadrons of Marine Corps “Harrier” AV-8 aircraft. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for this command tour.

Captain Atwood completed his naval career in command of the Atlantic Readiness Support Group in Norfolk and retired in 1984. He continued his career as a civilian managing a privately owned shipyard in Norfolk, VA before retiring a second time in 1995 in Virginia Beach. He and Shirley then enjoyed frequent cultural and birdwatching trips to Europe, Africa, Egypt, Turkey, the Galapagos, and South America, sailing in the Chesapeake Bay, and spending much time at the family home in Wellfleet. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2005 with an Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary II.

Hank and Shirley moved to Florence, MA in 2008 to be closer to their daughters and to more easily spend summers in Wellfleet. They joined Edwards Church, and Hank volunteered for the Survival Center and Meals on Wheels. He was known for his acumen in blackjack, bridge and cribbage, his sense of humor, and his calm and even temperament.

He is survived by Shirley, his beloved wife of 67 years, his daughters Cheri Butler (Stephen) of Northampton, MA and Judy Atwood of Woodstock, NY, his son Eric (DeeDee) of Castle Rock, CO, as well as four grandchildren: Jon (Rachel) and Katie Butler, and Alex (Megan) and Jason Atwood. He is also survived by his sister Nancy Cook of Wellfleet and her family, and numerous cousins. The family deeply appreciates the extraordinary team of caregivers who helped them care for Hank at home, as well as the support of the Hospice of the Fisher Home. There will be a service at the Edwards Church, 287 Main Street, Northampton, on Saturday, January 7, 11:00 a.m., and a Celebration of Life and internment of ashes in Wellfleet in June. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Northampton Survival Center.

For online condolences, please visit
Ahearn Funeral Home
(413) 587-0044
Published by Daily Hampshire Gazette on Jan. 6, 2023.