Robert Avon Ator, Col. USAF, (Ret.), age 78, of Valdosta, died on Thursday, March 9, 2017 in Gainesville, FL. Bob was born July 31, 1938 in Washington D.C. to the late Henry A. and Claudine C. Ator. Growing up in Washington, D.C. he worked hard from an early age delivering the Washington Post newspaper at age 8. He attended Woodrow Wilson High School where he was active in student government. He was also very active in the Boy Scouts of America, attaining the highest rank of Eagle Scout. He remained involved in Scouting his entire life and ultimately received the Silver Beaver Award, the highest Boy Scout award for an adult. He loved his cars and was a member of the Synchronizers Auto Club.
Bob graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in Economics. Upon graduation, he entered the United States Air Force, and faithfully served his country for 26 years. He is a graduate of all levels Professional Military Education that include Squadron Officers School, Navy Command and Staff College, and NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy. During his Air Force career, he served at bases in the U.S., Vietnam, England, Italy, and Germany. He was a pilot with over 2,500 hours in fighter aircraft and flew combat missions in Vietnam. Prior to retirement he advanced to the rank of Colonel and was base Commander at Moody Air Force Base and Langley Air Force Base. During Col. Ator's time at Langley, the base received the first ever overall "Outstanding" rating during their ORI- (Operational Readiness Inspection). Following his retirement from the Air Force, he chose Valdosta, GA to be his home. Not only did he love the city, but also loved her citizens.
During his time in Valdosta, he served as Vice President of Delta Petroleum Services. He then became the Executive Director of Valdosta Regional Airport, and served as airport manager until he retired. Col. Ator was also a key member of the Valdosta Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce's Moody Support Committee. This committee was successful at protecting Moody Air Force Base from the BRAC Base Closure in 1991. Bob was a member of Park Avenue United Methodist Church and numerous other community organizations.
Bob leaves his wife of 54 years, Sylvia C. Ator of Valdosta; a daughter and son-in-law, Stacey and David Klinkicht of Goldsboro, NC; a son and daughter-in-law, Robert Avon Ator II and Michelle of Little Rock, AR; a son and daughter-in-law, William H. and Susanne Ator of Sumter, SC; a brother and sister-in-law Wayne and Cassie Ator of Palm Island, FL; a sister and brother-in-law Jeanne and Jim Costello of Port Townsend, WA. Also surviving are 7 grandchildren: Jessica Klinkicht of Oklahoma City, OK, Ryan Klinkicht of Goldsboro, NC, Taylor Ator of Sumter, SC, Bob Ator of Sumter, SC, Robert Avon Ator, III, Colorado Springs, CO, Katie Ator, Sumter, SC, and Lauren Ator of Little Rock, AR; several nieces and nephews and his beloved dog, Bandit.
The Memorial Service for Bob will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at Park Avenue United Methodist Church. The family will receive friends at Park Place by McLane (108 W. Park Ave.) on Monday evening from 5:30 until 7:30 pm. In lieu of flowers, donation may be made to the Boy Scouts of America, Alapaha Area Council, 1841 Norman Dr., Valdosta, GA. 31603 or the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia, 3338-L1 Country, Club Road PMB 318, Valdosta, GA 31605. Condolences may be conveyed to the family on the obituary page of www.mclanecares.com Carson McLane Funeral Home
Published on  March 11, 2017