A Great Loss to the Gamecock Community

Jim Atkinson, a great, great Gamecock fan, passed away on September 2 of cancer at the age of 61. We knew him here as "Benthere."

His daughter Amy let me know today about the passing of her father. Jim had been very sick prior to his passing, and we now know why he had been "missing in action" around here the last couple of months.

Jim was attending the Watermelon Festival in his hometown of Pageland on July 21. He and his wife met with the rest of their family in town, and were just getting ready to watch the grandkids ride rides when he got weak and was unable to stand. He was taken to the ER by ambulance and stayed in the hospital for several days, and was initially diagnosed with pneumonia and anemia. The more serious diagnosis of cancer was made only ten days before his death.

Jim attended USC for one year back in 1962, and remained a lifelong Gamecock fan forever after. Board member Will, whose username is Surfcock, remembered that if Jim wasn't at a game, "He followed them religiously on radio." And was usually also on the board at the same time, talking to other members as the games progressed.

"Go Cocks" was engraved on his vault - along with a big Rooster, and a Gamecock pin was pinned to the lapel of his suit. Garnet flowers in black vases sat around his casket and the minister stated in his service, "Above all things the family will remember about Jim, they'll always carry with them that the South Carolina Gamecocks are the best college football team around."

Jim was always a good online friend of mine personally, and a major contributor to our online community. I wasn't known as a controversial poster when I became a member of the USC online community several years ago, but I always knew if someone decided to take a position contrary to mine, the first person to have my back would be good ol' Benthere. He loved to post on our political board probably most of all.

One of the strongest pillars of this community is Mark, better known around here as Gamecocksfan, and he spoke of his friend Benthere: "Jim was a respected and well liked member of the community," he said. "When he posted most of us took interest in what he had to say. From my earliest days on gamecock message boards I recall Benthere. From the Deuce, the GamecockNation, Gamecock Insider or Gamecock Scout he was always there. We shared a passion for all things gamecock. As a kindred spirit and fine gamecock he will be missed."

I spoke to his wife Gloria and daughter Amy briefly tonight, and they gave me a glimpse of the man when he wasn't behind a computer. And you know what? He was the same kind of man in real life that he projected to be to all of us here in our online community. "Everyone was his friend," Mrs. Atkinson said. "He didn't have an enemy in the world, and would give you the shirt off his back. He was a real Southerner. And of course, he loved those Gamecocks."

His daughter Amy spoke of his relationship with his wife: "In 20 years of marriage, he never raised his voice; never had an argument that you knew of. He could have gone to the games with his friends, but he took his wife. He never went anywhere without her." she said.

Amy said what she remembered most about her father was his sense of humor. "He was the funniest man you'd ever know," she said. Amy gave a couple of examples. Jim owned his own business, and one of the guys who worked for him came to their house one day and asked Gloria if she would wrap some presents he had bought for his wife. As she wrapped each present, she remarked that "one day" she'd like to own one of these. On Christmas morning, as she opened her presents, it became clear to everyone that she had wrapped all her own presents.

Another time he spent ½ hour videotaping the commode in their house when no one was in the bathroom. Later that night they had friends over. When the husband went into the bathroom, Jim turned on the videotape of the commode, so that when his friend came out and saw it, he immediately thought there had been a secret camera in the bathroom taping him in there.

Jim was "the best storyteller" anyone knew, according to his friends and family. He studied his ancestry, the Civil War, and had a novel in progress about the last legal duel in South Carolina that he never got to finish. His daughter Amy recently completed a short story, and as she wrapped it up, she realized that she was being prepared to finish his book. Amy talked of how she could finish a book on a subject that she has no particular interest in: the subject was made fascinating by her father's story-telling ability. "He had 10 folders full or research on the duel, and took us to meet the ancestors of the two men who took part in the duel. You had to keep listening; he made it interesting even if you weren't interested."

Amy told of one of her father's friends, who came by in his last days at the hospital. The friend of over 25 years told Amy that her father was "the smartest man he ever knew."

Jim never got to say goodbye to his own father, but Amy will treasure the fact that she and her father got to share everything they wanted to before they had to say goodbye. She asked him five days before he passed if he was scared. "He said no," she said. She asked, "Daddy, are you sad?" She said he replied, "No, but I am disappointed that I didn't get to everything in my plans."

Jim is also survived by two other children, Andy and April, a sister Suzanne, and seven grandchildren.

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