Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience


Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience

Dr. Arthur J. Atkinson Jr.

February 24, 2024
Richland, MI




Dr. Arthur J. Atkinson of Richland, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois, age 85, passed away peacefully with his loving wife, Mary Jo, at his side on February 24, 2024, at their winter residence in Boca Grande, FL.

Arthur was born on March 22, 1938, in his parents' car, near the Oak Street exit of Lake Shore Drive on their way to Passavant Hospital, which today is known as Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Art grew up in downtown Chicago and attended boarding school at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, where he excelled in academics, sports and extracurricular activities including soccer and chess. Arthur mentored fellow classmates in weekly chess strategy sessions expanding and leading the chess team to numerous victories under his training. As a result, the Dean personally invited him to play against renown chess champion Al Horowitz, his senior year, and they tied for the win.

Art received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Harvard University, his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College, and was a Clinical Associate at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He returned to Chicago and spent the next 24 years at Northwestern where he founded their Clinical Pharmacology research training program. He then moved to Richland, Michigan to serve as Corporate Vice President of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs at Upjohn (later Pharmacia & Upjohn). During the merger, Art was recruited back to NIH to start a Clinical Pharmacology training program so Art and Mary Jo moved to Bethesda, Maryland for the next several years keeping their residence in Michigan. During this time Art created and co-authored the textbook (now in its 4th edition) 'Atkinson's Principles of Clinical Pharmacology', a "must read" textbook for most graduate students today. Recently, and up to his passing, Art served as Chief Scientific Officer for Proletariat Therapeutics, a clinical stage and life science company focused on the development of therapies that prevent the toxic consequences of chemotherapy and other invasive treatments.

Art was an avid sailor throughout his lifetime. He learned how to sail from his parents on Lake Michigan and began racing dinghies at the Chicago Yacht Club, winning numerous Lehman 10 Dinghy Frostbite Season Championships. He joined the "Eagle" sailing team in the late 1970's and enjoyed many victories including several Chicago Mac awards. In 1991, they finished 1st overall in the Mac Race and later he became a member of the Island Goats Sailing Society having raced in 27 Chicago Mack races during his sailing career.

Art met the love of his life, Mary Jo, through mutual Chicago Yacht Club sailing friends in the early 1980s and they were married on May 12, 1984. They celebrated 40 years together. In 2003, they purchased and commissioned a Ron Holland design 55' cruising sailboat that they named Paradigm. Their home base was Gibson Island, Maryland and they enjoyed cruising up and down the Atlantic coast as well as winter excursions in the Caribbean.

Another passion of Art's was the Opera, which was passed down by his parents attending many seasons at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and thereafter with Mary Jo. Together they were able to experience performances throughout the United States and Europe, of which LaForza del Destino, was one of his favorites. In Art's memory and patronship, this opera will be performed by the Lyric Opera in 2027.

Art is survived by his loving wife, Mary Jo Atkinson, nieces Inez Ann Galt (Chicago, IL) and Mary Galt (Royalston, MA). Art was preceded in death by his parents, Inez and Dr. Arthur J. Atkinson, Sr., and his sister and brother-in-law, Inez and William Galt. A celebration of Arthur's life will be held in Michigan at a later date, followed by a private burial in Chicago.