Watson, Michael Lasell
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Rochester: 1/2/1918 - 11/26/2012. Mr. Watson was born on 2 January 1918 in New York City, a wonderfully prosperous time and place. He was to lead a life full of interesting pursuits.
Along with his parents, James Sibley Watson, Jr. and Hildegarde Lasell and his sister Jeanne, Mr. Watson lived in a household full of music, literature, art, ideas and interesting people. As a boy (and teenager) he made his own radios and became a ham operator. He also made his own telescopes, ground his own lenses and, no doubt, made his own observations.
Mr. Watson graduated from Harvard in 1941 with a degree in Music, as he had become an accomplished pianist and composer between bouts of lens grinding.
With the war beginning shortly after college, Mr. Watson joined the Radiation Lab at MIT, where he worked on radar and acquired a number of patents.
During the war he married Claire McLamore, an Eastman School student who later became a successful opera singer in Europe. They had four children: David Manning Watson (Debbie) of Georgetown, Massachusetts, Diana Emily Watson of Clearwater, Florida, Michael Lasell Watson, Jr. (Suzanne) of Sudbury, Massachusetts, and Bronwyn Watson of Pittsboro, North Carolina.
After the war, he worked briefly for Stromberg Carlson in Rochester and then began studying for a PhD in biophysics. He received his doctorate in 1950 and commenced research at the University of Rochester.
Mr. Watson's interest was directed at the electron microscope, a brand new device that had many technical issues to be worked out. During the next 10 years he resolved many of these issues, and was referred to as " the dean of electron-microscopy" in a scholarly journal.
An interest in raising orchids, begun in the early 1950's, occupied him for about 30 years.
After his divorce from Claire, Mr. Watson married Nicoleta Zervas (his wife of over 51 years) by whom he had two children: Marion Lasell Watson of Northbridge, Massachusetts,and Anastasia Katherine Markson of Honeoye Falls, New York.
At this time, Mr. Watson had built a new house, designed by Wharton Esherick. It was sculptural with remarkable curves, chimneys and a living-room with a twisted ceiling.
Mr. Watson had many interests among which was woodworking. He created furniture which developed into extraordinary forms. Rochester at the time was the center of a lively craft movement, and he fit in well.
He pursued woodworking for about 10 years and eventually became interested in loudspeakers. He designed and patented an unusual speaker which was a cylinder about 5' long with the speaker at the top, pointed up. The bass resonator was a clear vinyl tube under the speaker. It displayed lifelike frequency response.
In the eighties Mr. Watson became interested in computers. I remember one occasion when he was loading some 64 floppies carrying the Unix operating system into his PC. He dismissed DOS as being a "disorganized mess". Computers led Mr. Watson into making fractal images on his monitor, which he would photograph and then process in his own color darkroom.
In addition to his loving children, Mr. Watson leaves behind 4 wonderful grandchildren: Jessica Manning Watson (Thomas Brouillette) of Brooklyn, New York, Aden James Watson (Jamy) of Bruner, Missouri, Asher Quinn Watson of Somerville, Massachusetts, and Watson Alexander Markson of Honeoye Falls, New York; and, 3 adorable great grandchildren: Owen Lynn Watson, Francisco Ayres Brouillette, and Benjamin Quilley Watson.
We will miss him greatly.
The family would like to thank the many caring staff members at St. Johns Home (Hastings 1st Floor) who kindly cared for Mr. Watson over the last several years.
A service will be held at The Memorial Art Gallery at 5:30 on December 8th. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his memory to The Memorial Art Gallery. Contact Anastasia 585-615-6123 for details.
Published in Rochester Democrat And Chronicle from Dec. 2 to Dec. 5, 2012