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William WATSON Jr.

Obituary
  • "On behalf of the former CDC folks now living in the..."
    - Gene Matthews
  • "My sincere condolences. I've heard a lot about your father..."
    - Marcia Zuckerman
  • "Bill was a giant of a man. He left a legacy of love,..."
    - Peggy Sachs
  • "It was a privilege to have known Bill Watson - they truly..."
    - Jane Kelly
  • "All of our Dixon family mourn this loss. Bill was a good..."
    - Sue Dixon Paulsen


Family-Placed Death Notice

WATSON, Jr., William William (Bill) Clarence Watson, Jr., 89, passed away on Dec. 23, 2013 at Hospice Atlanta. He was born on November 1, 1924 in Marion, SC to William Clarence Watson, Sr. and Ila Mae Duncan Watson. The late Margie Chapman Watson was his loving wife for 56 years. Mr. Watson graduated Latta High School with honors and attended the Citadel until World War II. He tested into the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) which sent him to Georgia Tech before he deployed to the German Front with the Army Infantry, 100th Division, 398th Company A. He served as a mortarman and was captured and detained as a POW at Stalag IV B for the final 6 Months of the war. He chronicled in great detail the story of his military service in his personal memoir entitled, "First Class Privates". The Army awarded him 3 Campaign ribbons, a Bronze Star and a POW medal. Mr. Watson finished his education at the University of South Carolina-Cum Laude in 1948. The Public Health Service recruited him in 1948 where he began what turned out to be a very long and illustrious career in public health. He started out as one of the original Public Health Advisors in the Venereal Disease investigation and moved from there to the organization that became the Communicable Disease Center (CDC) and later the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During his time as Executive Officer of CDC, he obtained his Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University in 1964. He was promoted to Assistant Director in 1970 and in 1975, he, Margie and son Bill moved to New Delhi, India along with Dr. William Foege, his family and others to work on the small pox eradication campaign which ultimately resulted in what he considered to be one of CDC's greatest accomplishments in Global health. In 1976 he was promoted to Deputy Director then served under 4 different Directors until his retirement in 1984. Upon his retirement the CDC Medal of Excellence was renamed the William C. Watson, Jr. Medal of Excellence in his honor. The Medal is given each year to recognize outstanding professionals and is endowed by the CDC Foundation which he helped to found. In 1985 the Public Health Advisors formed the Watsonian Society in his honor. During his tenure at CDC, Mr. Watson traveled the world, hosted many dignitaries, met Presidents and other world leaders such as Fidel Castro and received many "Distinguished Service Awards" from the US Government for his outstanding public service. After retiring from CDC, he, Dr. Foege and Carol Walters founded the Task Force for Child Survival which is now known as the Task Force for Global Health. The Task Force moved to the newly opened Carter Center and became involved with Jimmy Carter's global health initiatives. Bill served as the Director of Operations for the Carter Center from 1986 - 1992. The Task Force for Global Health recently dedicated their conference room to Mr. Watson. Bill was elected an Honorary EIS Officer of CDC in 1983 and an Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1999. He grew up on a farm in Marion, SC where his father owned a country store. He was the oldest of 5 children and is survived by his sister, Katie Macon, his youngest brother, Zack Watson (Peggy), and his sister in law, Keturah Watson. He was predeceased by his brothers Garland (Peggy) and Anthony. He was very close to Margie's family and is survived by her brother Raymond (Retha) Chapman and sister in law, Bessie Chapman. Her Brothers Howard and Harry (Lucille) are deceased. Bill and Margie have two children. Their devoted son, William C. Watson, III (Vicki) passed away in 2012. Daughter Karen and son-in-law Tom Rowles cared for and adored her father. Their children called him "Grandy" and never ceased to be amazed by his vast knowledge of just about everything. He cherished his grandchildren Kelli (Wade) Davis, Andrew (Chaffraix) Rowles and Katherine Rowles. He always joked that he was a good grandfather and then he was a "Great" grandfather. Those great grandchildren are Haley, Kyle, Canon, Jake Davis, Hudson and Silas Rowles. He and Margie were long time members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta (UUCA) and he served on the Board of Directors of the Meadeville-Lombard Seminary in Chicago for many years. They lived on Mason Woods Drive for over 40 years where they entertained their wonderful neighbors, work friends and held weekly family gatherings. Bill touched the lives of many people and few people were loved and respected more. He exhibited integrity, an incredible sense of justice and a love for mankind. He had a superior intellect that he used to make the world a better place. Most of all he was a true friend and loving husband, brother, son, father and grandparent. The memorial service to celebrate Bill's life will be held at 2:00 pm on January 4, 2013 at UUCA. The family will receive friends after the service. Burial will be in Marion, SC at Rose Hill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the CDC Foundation, UUCA or the . A.S. Turner & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory, Decatur, GA.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Dec. 27, 2013
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