Robert Boyer Atkins was born in Washington, DC on August 12, 1911, son of Lewis Stewart and Ella (Boyer) Atkins. He attended Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where he was a member of the Swimming Team, Varsity Club, and was Circulation Manager of the Chronicle, the College newspaper. Graduated in June 1932 (BS in Civil Engineering), he was employed as Contractor’s Field Engineer on construction of the Agriculture Extensible Building, Translux Theatre Building, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Annex, all in Washington, DC, until early 1937. During this period, he also had a year and a half as computer and surveyor with the US Coast and Geodetic Survey.
In 1937 and 1938, he was in the general contracting business in Washington, DC, and vicinity, followed by two years as Assistant Engineer with the Highway and Conservation division of the Work Projects Administrative, Washington, DC for six months prior to his Naval Service, he was employed as a Construction Engineer with the US Army Corps of Engineers on the construction of the Radford Ordnance Works, Radford, Virginia with subsequent promotion to Assistant Supervising Engineer.
Commissioned Lieutenant (junior grade) in the Civil Engineer Corps of the US Naval Reserve, on December 30, 1940, he subsequently attained rank of Commander during the World War II period. On July 9, 1946, he was transferred from the Naval Reserve to the US Navy in that rank, and was promoted to Captain in the Civil Engineer Corps of the Navy, effective July 1, 1956.
Reporting for active duty in April 1941, he was assigned by the District Public Works Officer, Fifth Naval District, as Assistant Resident Officer in Charge of Construction, at the Naval Mine Depot, Yorktown, Virginia. From March 1942 until January 1944 he was Resident Officer in Charge of Construction at that Depot and the Naval Mine Warfare School, Yorktown, plus Cheatham Annex at Williamsburg, Virginia. He then had eleven months as Executive Assistant to the Officer in Charge of Construction at the Naval Ordnance Test Station, Inyokern, California.
From January 1945 throughout the remaining war period, he served at Davisville, Rhode Island, and at Okinawa. At Davisville he received Construction Battalion training and in transit to Honolulu, had charge of Cas. Draft #2670. At Okinawa, from May through September 1945, he was the Senior Project Manager for the Eight Naval Construction Brigade. He remained on Okinawa until December 1945, serving as Officer in Charge of the Ninth Naval Construction Battalion.
In March 1946 he reported to the Navy Department, Washington, DC, to serve two years in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, in the Material Control Division, handling Bureau of Yards and Docks matters. In that assignment, he also served as Alternate CNO Member of the Industrial Facilities Committee of the Army-Navy Munitions Board, and as a Member of the Shore Station Development Board and of the Marianas On-Site Survey Board.
In April 1948 he had temporary duty for Floating Dry-dock Instruction in the Bureau of Yards and Docks, Navy Department, Washington, DC, and from June of that year until February 1951 was assigned to the Public Works Department Fourteenth Naval District, Pearl Harbor, T.H. There he served for a year as District Maintenance Superintendent; a second year as Coordinator for Maintenance and Operations and Officer in Charge of the Headquarters Shop; and finally for four months each as Assistant District Public Works Officer and Assistant Officer in Charge of Construction.
He returned to the United States in March 1951 and for two years thereafter was Public Works Officer of the marine Corps School, Quantico, Virginia, with additional duty as Public Works Officer of the Naval Hospital and Resident Officer in Charge of Construction for the Quantico, Virginia, area. In April 1953 he reported as Public Works Officer and Resident Officer in Charge of Construction at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard, Long Beach, California. He was detached in May 1955, and in June became Public Works Officer and Resident Officer in Charge of Construction at the Naval Air Station, Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and Staff Public Works Officer, Naval Air Bases, First Naval District.
Under orders of September 5, 1057, he now serves as deputy Officer in Charge of Construction, Bureau of Yards and Docks Contracts, Madrid, Spain.
Captain Atkins has the American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; navy Occupation Service Medal, Asia Clasp; and the National Defense Service Medal.