James Akins Obituary
The Honorable James E. Akins, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia died of natural causes on Thursday, 15th of July 2010. He was 83 years old. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Marjorie Abbott Akins, his son Thomas A. Akins, his daughter Mary Elizabeth Akins Colvill, three grand children – Margaret, Grace and Caroline Akins and his two brothers Kenneth and Donavan Akins.
James was born in 1926 and was the oldest son of three of an Akron, Ohio rubber plant worker. James attended The University of Akron where he earned a bachelor's degree in Physics. Before graduating in 1947, James spent two years serving in the United States Navy. He entered the Foreign Service in 1954. His Foreign Service career spanned two decades; where he worked in Naples, Italy; Paris and Strasbourg France; Damascus, Syria, Beirut, Lebanon; Kuwait; and Baghdad, Iraq. In the fall of 1968, he was appointed as the Director of Fuels and Energy. While director, he was one of the first to see the approaching energy crisis. His incisive analysis, including a landmark article in Foreign Affairs magazine, won widespread recognition which resulted in him being invited to write President Nixon's first energy report.
His career in the Foreign Service reached its pinnacle when he was appointed the U S Ambassador to Saudi Arabia in August 1973 and served in that post until 1976. During his Foreign Service career James and his wife amassed and reconstructed a substantial collection of Old World/Near East artifacts in which they donated a large portion of the collection to the Department of Classical Studies, Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Akron. This donation allows students to explore the mysteries of the ancient near east without leaving the campus, and provides the basis for numerous projects and research.
After leaving the State Department, he became one of the worlds' foremost Middle Eastern experts and enjoyed being a consultant to multinational corporations on foreign policy and energy. He was a gifted public speaker and was invited to provide the commencement ceremonies address at many Universities and schools nationwide. He was also called to testify before various Congressional Committees. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Archaeology Society and the Association of Political and Social Scientists.
Throughout the years James was an avid gardener and a patron of the Washington Theater and Arts community. His love of the Washington Opera, Shakespeare Theater and Arena Stage is shared by his family and friends alike. Recently he enjoyed the company of his three grand children and visiting the mountains of Western Maryland.
Throughout his life James touched many lives with his selfless generosity, great sense of humor, and strong moral values. His presence will be missed but the love that he has shown to all will forever be embedded in the minds of the friends and family he leaves behind.