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Samuel Rayburn Watkins

WATKINS, SAMUEL RAYBURN, 89, died Sunday, November 11, 2012.

Ray was born on April 21, 1923 in Benton, KY. He was the only child of Samuel Gipson Watkins and Keron Wyatt Watkins.

He was a graduate of Benton High School and Murray State University, where he was valedictorian. He subsequently received a master's degree in communications from the University of Illinois.

He enlisted in the Navy in 1942, and finished his senior year in college at Tufts University in Boston, taking 27 hours in one semester while enrolled in the Navy V-12 officer training program. After midshipman school at Columbia University, he served as executive officer and commander of several sub chasers involved in both Atlantic and Pacific anti-submarine warfare. Discharged as a lieutenant in 1946, he continued to serve in the Naval Reserve until 1954.

After the war, Ray worked as a reporter for the Staten Island Advance, taught journalism at the University of Illinois, and purchased the Benton Tribune-Democrat. He moved to Louisville in 1950 to work for the newly-formed Louisville Chamber of Commerce, and subsequently served 30 years as president of Associated Industries of Kentucky. As Kentucky's leading business advocate, he also served as president of the National Labor-Management Foundation, executive vice president of the Kentucky Safety Council, chairman of the Conference of State Manufacturers Associations, chairman of the National Industrial Council, and president of the American Society of Association Executives.

Among the many professional recognitions which he received, he most valued receiving the Key Award, which was the highest honor of the American Society of Association Executives, and the Outstanding Alumnus Award from his alma mater, Murray State University.

He was a member of the Louisville Boat Club and the Pendennis Club, and a former member of the Ocean Club and the St Andrews Club in Delray, FL.

Ray was predeceased by his wife, the former Evelyn Wise Ellis.

He is survived by his son, Samuel Rayburn Watkins Jr. MD (Donna); his daughter, Julia Watkins Davis (Fred); and six grandchildren, Mary Sinclair Watkins, Frederic McCracken Davis, Eleanor Ellis Watkins, William Watkins Davis, Thomas May Watkins and Samuel Rayburn Watkins III.

Visitation will be Friday, 4-7 p.m. at Pearson's, 149 Breckenridge Lane. Following a private burial, a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Chapel of Second Presbyterian Church.

Expressions of sympathy can be made to the Filson Club or Wayside Christian Mission.

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Funeral Home

Pearson Funeral Home
149 Breckenridge Lane Louisville, KY 40207
(502) 896-0349

Published in The Courier-Journal on Nov. 15, 2012
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