In Memory of

Iona

Atkinson

(Cunningham)

Obituary for Iona Atkinson (Cunningham)

Iona Atkinson, affectionately known as Masec, Ma Yon, Aunt Yony, was born July 29, 1932, to Priscella McMillon and Selvin Cunningham at Retreat, Portland, Jamaica and lived a remarkable life dedicated to her faith, community and family.

She is the sixth of ten children; six sisters, Theresa, Wilhell, Imogene, Leonora, Clarice, Icelda and three brothers, Jonathan, Kenneth and Len.

Iona attended Fellowship Primary and All Age School in Fellowship, Portland and spent much of her youth supporting the agrarian lifestyle of our grandparents.

Much of her adolescent life was spent in Toms Hope, supporting the family’s way of life until she got her first job as a clerk at Hanna’s Department Store in Port Antonio. She loved being in the store but ultimately, she would relinquish that job for her favorite and most satisfying role, that of being a parent.

She met Joseph Atkinson in 1957 and the two were married in 1963. They later moved to West Retreat where they settled and raised their family. They later relocated to Toms Hope in 1992. Iona wore many hats, but her most favorite was that of mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. That’s what brought the light in her eyes and the radiance in her smile. She was the happiest when surrounded by family. However that was not all, one could say, she raised a village as she welcomed all the friends that visited. Some even adopted her as mother and grandmother.

Mom lived by the Golden Rule, and held in high regard the belief that we should be respectful to others, no matter their standing in life. Having manners and showing respect for others was very important, especially the elderly. Although she did not attain highly in her educational pursuit, she was a strong advocate for getting a good education and insisted on her children obtaining higher education. She also valued time, and taught us to use it well, to be on time, and to have no tolerance for tardiness.


As a deaconess at the Wain Road Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Jamaica, she embraced all the responsibilities of community, especially as a member of the Adventist Community Service, formerly known as Dorcas Welfare Society. She was extremely generous with whatever she had and shared willingly with those who were in need. She valued community and never failed to ensure that those around her were okay, whether it was with a visit, a meal, a conversation, or even a laugh. She was always present and available at the right moment to lend a helping hand. This sharing of self was not limited to the community, but every friend that ever visited, extended family members that stayed for a day, a month and sometimes longer. All were welcome.

An ardent cook, Mom always had some treats she generously shared with whoever visited. Her home was a pit stop, and everyone knew where to find the best potato pudding, toto and coconut drops in the neighborhood. Such was mom, that all knew they were welcome and loved in her presence.

Iona passed away peacefully on February 1, 2024, two days after she was transferred to the Accent Care facility in Milton, Massachusetts. She was predeceased by her husband of 54 years, Joseph Atkinson, who was called home on May 26, 2017, and her son, Ronald (Breda), in 1967.

She is survived by her 7 children: Iris (Cherry), Maxine (Patsy) Loris (Junie) Albert (Trevor) Carrol (Joy), LeRoy (Jimmy) and Joseph (Mikey), sisters; Leonora and Clarice and brothers, Kenneth and Len; 15 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild, nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Iona was a devoted christian and her faith in God was unshakable. She will forever be remembered for her love and care for her family, her steadfast commitment to her faith and her generosity to the community in the West Retreat and Toms Hope area. Her legacy of kindness and love will live on in the hearts and minds of all she touched directly or indirectly. Though saddened by his passing, we share the blessed hope of reuniting with her one day.

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