Claude Ray "Hoot" Watkins

Just as the bright day melted into a rosy sunset the sweet spirit of Claude Ray "Hoot" Watkins was wafted on a gentle breeze to ride across his beautiful Lake Betty Jean to eternal peace. A longtime resident of Greenwell Springs, La., he began this life in Carriere, Ms., born to Lonnie Luke and Fannie Odell Watkins on October 18, 1925. He proudly served his country in the U.S. Air Force during WWII and The Korean Conflict. He was an Alumnus of LSU and graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University with a Bachelors of Science Degree. He was co-owner of Watkins Brothers Plastering Co., and owner of Hoot Watkins General Contracting Co. having built many prominent local buildings such as Lockett Hall at LSU, Gulf South Research Institute and Cedarcrest Southmoor Elementary School. Other companies he started were Hoot Watkins Real Estate and Southeast Aerial Photography. Hoot enjoyed piloting his many different airplanes over the years. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife Betty Jean Annison Watkins of over 60 years, his daughter Mary Claire and her husband Thomas J. Mayeux, and two sons, Claude Ray Jr. and Herman Annison Watkins. Two daughters-in-law, Bridget B. Watkins and Suzan B. Watkins. A brother Gene Watkins, a sister Grace Williams, 19 grandchildren, Travis, Megan, Amber, Amie, Andrew, Melissa, Anna, Melanie, Marjerrie, Albert, Caitlin, Hunter, Lindsey, Elizabeth, Taylor, Robert, Amanda, James, and Jay, 11 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his daughter Margaret Anne and her husband L. Jerry Autin, and his son Lonnie Luke Watkins II, a sister Mae Schroeder, and 5 brothers Andrew, Jim, Hack, Clarence and Fred Watkins. He always said "There were seven of us boys and we each had two sisters." He was Hoot Watkins and he had a life well-lived. As per his wishes, his body has been donated to the Louisiana State University Medical School. There will be a private memorial service to be held at a later date.

Published in TheAdvocate.com from Nov. 21 to Nov. 23, 2012