Ralph Eugene Watkins

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NEWBERRY — Ralph Eugene Watkins, Jr., 96, died on Saturday February 1, 2014, in Stone Mountain, Georgia. He was born in Greenville, February 17, 1917, the son of the late Ralph E. Watkins and Ethel Willson Watkins. A 1938 graduate of Clemson University, he obtained an MS in Education from The University of Georgia and an Advance Certificate of Educational Administration from the University of South Carolina.

He served as teacher, coach and school administrator in South Carolina in Abbeville and Newberry counties from 1938-1980 with the exception of four years spent on active duty in the US Army during WWII.

He was called to active duty March 5, 1942, and served in the European Theater of Operations, where as a US Army captain he commanded an infantry Rifle Company in the 94th Infantry Division during the Rhineland and Northern France campaigns. He was the ultimate manifestation of The Greatest Generation.

Following WWII, he participated in the Army Reserve Program, retiring with the rank of colonel in 1975. During his reserve career he served in positions of command including the 3013th Station Complement Unit; the 2511th Engineering Unit Training Center; the 108th Infantry Division and the 3296th Military Police Unit Training Center, stationed in Greenwood. Col. Watkins was a graduate of the Basic Infantry Course at Ft. Benning, Ga., The Officers Advanced Engineering School Extension Course, The Military Police Officers Career Extension Course, and The Command and General Staff College Extension Course. He was awarded The Expert Infantry Badge, The Combat Infantry Badge, Army Commendation Medal and was a recipient of the Bronze Star for meritorious service.

While working in the field of education, Ralph served as president of the Abbeville and Newberry County Education Association. as well as president of the Newberry County Retired Educators Association. He was a member of the South Carolina Commission on Secondary Schools of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools from 1977-1980. He was presented a Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contributions to education in South Carolina by the South Carolina Association of School Psychologists. He served as president of the South Carolina Association of School Superintendents during 1979-1780. On June 30, 1980, he retired as County Superintendent of Newberry County Schools.

He was active in community affairs and served as president of the Calhoun Falls Community Club, Lions Club and Newberry Kiwanis Club. As an active member of the Central United Methodist Church in Newberry where he served on several boards and commissions, his most cherished assignment was teacher of the Fellowship Sunday School class for over 30 years. Throughout his career he touched many lives including students, teachers and faculty. He was always willing to listen and offer encouragement to those seeking his wise counsel. His life and Christian witness were an inspiration to the many he touched, as he continues to influence all of those who were privileged to have known and loved him.

He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 71 years, Clara Stone Watkins on Oct 1, 2009. Survivors include: sister, Betty Watkins Pierson, Columbus, Ind.; daughters Martha Winchester (Jim), Phoenix, Ariz.; Beverly Mahon (Tom) Stone Mountain, Ga.; grandchildren Karen (Barry) Stiles of Athens, Ga.; Clarke (Rebecca) McNeace of The Netherlands; Thomas (Lan) Mahon, Jr. of Snellville, Ga.; Brett(Danielle) McNeace of Lake Quivera, Kan.; Misti (Rich) Billing of Duluth , Ga. and ten great grandchildren.

Funeral services will be conducted by the Rev. Dr. Larry Salters at Central United Methodist Church in Newberry Sunday, February 9, 2014, at 3 p.m. Family visitation will precede the services at 2 p.m. in the church social hall. Entombment will be at Newbery Memorial Gardens. Memorials may be made to Central United Methodist Church, 1005 College Street, Newberry, SC 29108, or the , 3223 Sunset Blvd., Ste. 100, West Columbia, SC, 29169.

McSwain-Evans Funeral Home is entrusted with the arrangements. A memorial message may be written to the family at

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McSwain-Evans Funeral Home
1724 Main St.
Newberry, SC 29108
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Published in The Newberry Observer from Feb. 5 to Feb. 6, 2014
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