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Hot Springs Hidden Figure: George "Pete" Atkins

Updated: Feb 10, 2021

George "Pete" Atkins in HSPD uniform

Pete was born in Prescott, AR, but relocated to Hot Springs as a toddler, along with his parents and two siblings. As a young adult he worked as a bellman at the Majestic Hotel in downtown Hot Springs. Pete married the love of his life, Jacquelyn M. Price, with whom he had one child, a daughter, Nina Felice Atkins, who was his pride and joy.

Pete and wife, Jacquelyn M. Price Atkins

"When asked about my Dad, I find that what you see written really doesn't describe 'My Pete' father was an honest man, he worked hard all of his life, I know that he loved me, he loved his family, he loved his community, and above all, he was just about doing what was right," recalls Pete's daughter, Nina Atkins.

Later, he would pursue a career change becoming one of only a handful of African-American Officers in the Hot Springs Police Department's history.

Pete posing for his official Department photo

As an officer with HSPD, Pete worked diligently in the community, building and maintaining relationships and trust with community members. One former community member recently shared his memory of Atkins: "One of the Other outstanding black men of HS! [Pete] was amazing!! Its always conflicting of how I think of the police today & how me being a small child never feeling that way! With [Pete] at the driver seat of that police car. I always felt safe."

"My Dad loved me, and because he loved me, he showed a love for the other children in the community, on the street, after the football games, those types of things...I looked forward to him coming home, spending time with the family, but my Dad worked most weekends, so he enjoyed his time with his family [when he was home]," says Nina. Pete served the Department and community from 1962-1979 before retiring.

Pete and daughter, Nina c. 1957

After his retirement, Pete worked as caretaker for local Historic Friendship Cemetery. "Growing up I spent alot of time with my Daddy... I'd walk around with him and they would call me 'Lil Pete'...that was my Daddy, always holding my hand, always there to protect me, right or wrong, he was there to guide me. That was my Pete. He worked tirelessly, day in day out, making sure that the cemetery was right for visitors on Mother's Day, Easter" until he was no longer able due to declining health.

"I remember 'My Pete' as a sharp dresser. When he dressed up, put on a suit he really looked good. He liked to have fun, he liked good music, and he liked having good friends around him, good food, good laughter", recounts Nina.

"When asked to 'tell me about your Dad', I remember really at one point being at a loss for words. It's really more of an emotion, you know, the undeniable love that we had for each other. It's hard to put into words. Men in back in those days just were doing what they thought was right. They all are to be honored," says Nina.

"I want my children to know, so that they can share with their children, that 'My Pete' they should be very proud of. They should be proud of him, as I am reflecting back, on making it with what he had to work with... 'My Pete' never received any public acknowledgements for his service. But, to God be the Glory for a life well lived and a legacy left for myself, my children, and to share with their children. You should be proud of your Pete", declares Nina of her beloved father.

Pete passed away in Hot Springs, AR at the age of 72, surrounded by his family. He is interred at Historic Friendship Cemetery.

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