John Horton Atwood, a World War II veteran and the founder of Houston-based Atwood Oceanics Inc., died July 13 at his home. He was 85.
Atwood was born Jan. 27, 1923, in Janesville, Wis., the son of Leo Holmes Atwood and Bessie Burch Atwood. He graduated in 1940 from Delavan High School in Delavan, Wis., where he lettered in football, baseball and basketball. He studied engineering at the University of Wisconsin.
During World War II, Atwood was a radio operator with the U.S. Marine Corps and took part in assault landings on Engebi and Eniwetok atolls in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. On Eniwetok, Atwood was seriously wounded by shrapnel in the neck and shoulder. He was honorably discharged from the Marines after the war at the rank of technical sergeant after being awarded the Purple Heart.
After the war, Atwood attended Purdue University, playing football and baseball. In 1951, he graduated with honors in mechanical engineering. In 1948, Atwood played professional football with the New York Giants for one year, as running back and cornerback, and handling kickoffs and punt returns.
After that season, Atwood was hired by Standard Oil of Ohio. In 1957, he went to Houston, and joined Global Marine Co. where he became an executive vice president. In 1968, Atwood founded Atwood Oceanics, a drilling company that operates in the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia, Australia, West Africa and Brazil. He retired from the energy industry in the 1990s.
Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Janet Morrissey Atwood; three sons, John Holmes Atwood, Michael Patrick Atwood and Patrick Kevin Atwood; daughters Kathryn Joan Mendel, of Katy, and Susan Carol Box, of Lavon, Texas; a sister, Mary Calhoun, of Estes Park, Colo.; and a brother-in-law, William J. Morrissey, of Elkhorn, Wis. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Marjorie Jane Atwood.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. July 19 at the Earthman Funeral Hunters Creek, 8303 Katy Freeway, Houston, with burial to follow at the Memorial Oaks Cemetery. JAS