Ralph L. Watkins


Ralph L. Watkins, 77, went to his Heavenly Reward early Saturday morning, January 25, 2014, from complications of open-heart surgery. At the time of his passing, Ralph was surrounded by his wife and daughters who tenderly released their husband and father into the waiting arms of His Savior. The pain of their loss can only be healed by remembering the abundance of Ralph's life. Ralph was born on September 14, 1936 and grew up in Anniston. He attended Anniston High School, before entering the U.S. Air Force and serving four years. After leaving military service in 1958, Ralph attended Jacksonville State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a Major in Business Administration and a Minor in Economics in 1965. Ralph married Shirley Holderfield, of Anniston, in 1960 after a quick courtship of only six months. They were happily married for 53 years, are members of First Baptist Church of Wedowee and were previous members of Parker Memorial Baptist Church of Anniston. Ralph leveraged his natural business knowledge and academic success into a long and successful career in the banking industry. He began as a Branch Manager at First National Bank in 1959 and continued his education earning a degree from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University in 1973. First National Bank of Anniston became SouthTrust Bank of Anniston in 1979 and Ralph continued his career eventually becoming the Executive Vice President. After an Anniston banking career of 30 years, he and Shirley relocated to Randolph County where he served as the President of the SouthTrust Bank of Randolph County. Ralph retired in 1996 after nearly 40 years in the banking industry. Ralph valued community and civic duty and demonstrated this with his participation and leadership. He served as President of the United Way of Calhoun County in 1984, President of the Anniston Rotary Club, belonged to the Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees and Lions Club. He also loved and supported his daughters becoming involved and leading many of the organizations in which they were involved. This included serving as a volunteer with the Cottaquilla Girl Scout Council for over 15 years, including roles on the Board of Directors and being President in 1972. He was also the President of Cobb Junior High School PTA in 1976. Ralph was an avid fisherman and an early member of BassMasters, competing in local and regional tournaments in the 1970s. In 1976 he represented the State of Alabama in the National BASS Federation Tournament. Ralph enjoyed more than bass fishing and traveled from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the chilling waters of Alaska in pursuit of bigger fish and bigger fishing stories. He enjoyed the company of many fishing buddies and the fellowship they shared on the water, and off. People called him "The GuideFather" for his ability to "put you on the fish". In the last few years Ralph re-ignited an interest in Aladdin Lamps. He loved to research their history and teach other about there special qualities. He began to buy lamps, locally and on-line, attending national exhibits, and became an Aladdin Knight. He slowly turned his attention to dismantling old, dented, worn and torn lamps and restoring them to beautiful pieces of history. Over time his collection grew from a few to a few hundred and the before-and-after pictures of some of his project lamps illustrate his passion and attention to detail. Ralph is preceded in death by his parents, Thomas Jefferson Watkins and Elizabeth Mae Canada Watkins. Ralph is survived by his wife of 53 years, Shirley, of Wedowee; two daughters, Sonja Watkins Dewhurst (Bob), of Hoover and Lynne Watkins Smith (David), of Wedowee and Boise, Idaho; two sisters, Mary Elizabeth Haynes, of Weaver and Margaret Martin (Jimmy), of Anniston; grandchildren, Melanie Swinson (Pete), Ryan Dewhurst (Mikran), Kelsie Borders (Taylor), Stefanie Dewhurst, Tucker Smith, Josh Smith, Emerald Smith and Savannah Dewhurst; great-grandchildren, Caroline Swinson, Sam Swinson and Ty Borders. Graveside service has been rescheduled for noon today Forestlawn in Anniston. Pallbearers will be: Taylor Borders, Milton Daugherty, Ryan Dewhurst, Jessie Harris, Antwan Houston, Don Simmons, and Josh Smith. Honorary Pallbearers will be Wedowee Baptist Church Baracca Sunday School Class. Flowers will be accepted or contributions can be made to the First Baptist Church of Wedowee Choir or Building Fund. Benefield Funeral Home of Wedowee coordinating.
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Benefield Funeral Home of Lineville - Lineville
89076 Highway 9
Lineville, AL 36266
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Published in The Anniston Star on Jan. 31, 2014
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