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CHARLES BERNARD, 93
Ocala - Charles Bernard Watts, Jr., longtime Ocala newspaperman, died Thursday, July 11, 2013. He was 93.
He spent his entire 45 1/2 year journalism career with the Star-Banner including stints as sports editor, staff writer, news editor, managing editor, editorial editor and editorial page editor. He was serving as editorial page editor when he retired December 31, 1994.
Born June 8, 1920, in Fitzgerald, Georgia, he moved to Ocala from Jacksonville in 1934. A 1938 graduate of Ocala High School, he was employed at the Ocala Swift & Co. plant when he entered the Armed Forces in October, 1941.
While serving with the U. S. Air Force at Drew Field in Tampa, he was assigned to a U. S. Air Force Detachment at a Royal Canadian Air Force radar school in 1943 and remained there until being discharged from the service in April 1946. He returned to his position at Swift & Co. until entering the University of Florida in September of that year. After receiving his degree in journalism he joined the Star-Banner Staff in August 1949 as the paper's first full-time sports editor that included covering the police, fire, chamber of commerce and agricultural beats.
During his tenure as managing editor, Watts wrote a weekly political column that in addition to the Star-Banner was published in the Leesburg, DeLand, Melbourne and Panama City newspapers.
While serving as editor he wrote all of the paper's editorials in addition to overseeing the entire news operation. While he was fully cognizant of the vital need for social services and programs geared to help the handicapped and needy, he considered himself a fiscal conservative. He was one of three members of the print media in Florida invited by President Ronald Reagan to a two-day briefing in Washington in 1980 that also included a luncheon at the White House. He attended dinners with President Jimmy Carter in Atlanta and Tampa.
While serving as a member of the Marion Senior Services board of directors he was chairman 2004 - 2009.
A member of Blessed Trinity Catholic Church of Ocala, he is survived by his wife Margaret, an accomplished Ocala artist; two sons, James Watts of Lakeland, John Watts and wife Rebecca of Charlotte, North Carolina; one grandson, Ryan Watts of Charlotte; three nephews and six nieces.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers donations may be made to Brothers Keeper, 2 W. Fort King St., Ocala, FL 34470 or Marion Senior Services, 1101 SW 20th Ct., Ocala, FL 34471.
The funeral mass will be held Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 10:00 AM at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church with Father Roy Eco officiating. Robert Mathews, Jack Kennedy, Mack Dunwoody, Charles Hutcheson, Charlie McAulay and Dick Jones will serve as pallbearers. Interment at Woodlawn Cemetery will be private. Funeral arrangements entrusted to Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services, 910 E. Silver Springs Blvd, Ocala, Florida.
Published in Ocala Star-Banner from July 14 to July 15, 2013