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WATSON, FORREST IRA - died in Bar Harbor, Maine, on June 4, 2014. He was 87 years old. Forrest was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on June 16, 1926, to Forrest F. Watson and Katherine Ayres Watson. His maternal grandfather was Brown Ayres, President of the University of Tennessee from 1903 to 1919. Forrest spent most of his life in Knoxville with time away for school and military service. He graduated from Woodbury Forest School in Virginia in 1944 and immediately joined the U.S. Navy. He was sent to Officers Training School in Berea, Kentucky, and then to Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, where he stayed to finish his education at the end of the war. In 1947, he entered the Harvard Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he earned a master's degree in business administration. It was in Cambridge that he met his future wife, Margery (Marghie) Greeley, then a student at Radcliff College. The couple married in 1952. Plans to settle in Knoxville were interrupted by the Korean War. Forrest returned to military service, this time in the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It was here that a son, Samuel Ayres Watson, was born in 1954. In 1955, the young family returned to Knoxville and Forrest began his career with Ira A. Watson Company, a chain of small department stores serving small southern towns. Ultimately Forrest became CEO and chairman of the board. The Knoxville store on the Market Square Mall was unique in the chain in that it purchased merchandise sold at auction which had been subjected to smoke or water. "Salvage Sales" at Watson's were a Knoxville institution. In 1998, Watson's was sold to the Peebles Stores in Virginia. Forrest retired. By then glaucoma had stolen his eyesight, but he soldiered on. He loved antiques and antique auctions. He and his wife traveled throughout the United States and Europe and enjoyed the house they had built on Lake Loudon in Maryville, Tennessee. Maine was always part of Forrest's life, beginning as a small child with summer holidays spent at Rockcrest in Ogunquit. The turreted shingled house, built in 1894, has been in the family since 1926. After his mother's death, Forrest became its caretaker, working diligently to maintain Rockcrest as the welcoming family home it has always been. While exploring Midcoast Maine one summer, the Watsons found, and fell in love with, the Penobscot Peninsula. They purchased land in Brooklin and built a retirement home on Blue Hill Bay. In 2008, they were in Maine year 'round, living by the Bay in the summer and at Parker Ridge Retirement Community in the winters. Forrest was a stubborn optimist who saw only the best in people and worked tenaciously to achieve happy outcomes. He was a generous and truly gentle man, loyal to family and friends, always ready with advice and a helping hand. He leaves his wife, Marghie, of Brooklin, Maine; his son, Sam of Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Brooklin; nieces, Claire Mortimer, Brooklin, and Katherine Mortimer, Sante Fe, NM; nephew, John S. Mortimer, Tucson, AZ; brother-in-law and wife, Sam and Leah Greely, Grover Beach, CA; nephew Joseph M. Greely, St. Mary's City, MD; niece, Elisabeth Farnsworth, Yakima, WA; great grandson, Phillip M. Dickens, Sanford, NC. Memorial gifts may be made to the . A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Funeral Home
Rose Mortuary - Knoxville
1421 N. BROADWAY  Knoxville, TN 37917
(865) 523-2121
Published in Knoxville News Sentinel on June 15, 2014
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