Peter Ficke Watzek
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Funeral services for Peter Ficke Watzek, 98, a long time resident of Greenville, MS will be at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, July 20, 2013 at St. James Episcopal Church, Greenville, MS. He died on July 14, 2013. Burial will be in Greenville Cemetery, Greenville, MS under the direction of Boone Funeral Home, Greenville, MS.
He was born in Portland, Oregon on November 15, 1914 and grew up in Wauna, Oregon, a small sawmill town on the banks of the Columbia River.
Peter was pre-deceased by an infant son David Harlan Watzek and his other son John Aubrey Watzek who farmed in Monroe and was a pioneer in housing areas in Monroe and Swartz and a very civic minded individual; his wife Betty of 55 years; and his sister Frances Warren of Eugene, Oregon. Peter leaves two daughters, Nancy Nix of Dallas, Texas, and Joan Strickland of Windermere, Florida, nine grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren. He relished his role as the patriarch of this extended family, caring for each person in a very personal and individual way. He was indeed the rock upon which his family was built.
Peter graduated from the University of Oregon with a business degree and married Bettybelle Tubbs of Adams, Oregon.
In 1900, his grandfather had joined two other businessmen and bought virgin pine timbered land in southeast Arkansas and northeast Louisiana which they developed into a sawmill, wood chemical and papermaking operation in Crossett, Arkansas. Upon graduation Peter moved with his family from Oregon to Arkansas, worked in all elements of The Crossett Company and became its President, a post he held until the company was sold to Georgia Pacific in 1961. Under his leadership this company became the largest industrial operation in Arkansas and he served as the head of the State Chamber of Commerce and of the Arkansas Manufacturers Assn. He was a director of the American Forestry Association from 1965 - 1994 and its President from 1965 - 1967. He was a Rotarian for over 60 years and a founding member and President of the Crossett Rotary Club. He later was awarded a Doctor of Civil Law honorary degree from the University of the South (Sewanee) and a Doctor of Laws honorary degree from the University of Arkansas.
When the owners of the Crossett operation sold the company to Georgia Pacific, he moved his family to the town he had come to love, Greenville, MS, where he had kept a boat at the Greenville Yacht Club for many years.
In Greenville he shifted from Chamber of Commerce type work to charitable activity. He worked diligently for the Boy Scouts and received both Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope awards.
He worked on a number of United Way committees and was honored with the United Way President's Award and the Volunteer of the Year Award. From the American Red Cross he received the Clara Barton Award. In 1996, he was awarded the Jake Stein Community Achievement Award.
But for all his accomplishments, Peter remained a humble man, caring more for his community and its residents than he did for any recognition. He was always ready to assist anyone or any worthy cause and spent much of his later years as a mentor in the Reading Buddies program at the Carrie Stern elementary school. He faithfully attended St. James Episcopal Church and the Rotary Club, which he so loved.
The family will receive friends from 4:30-6:00 p.m., Friday, July 19, 2013 at St. James Episcopal Church, Greenville, MS. The family requests memorials be made to United Way of Washington County, Post Office Box 115, Greenville, MS 38702.
Boone Funeral Home
Published in The News Star on July 17, 2013
Boone-Wells Funeral Home
905 Main Street Greenville, MS 38701