John "Chick" W. Watson, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, son, friend and agitator, died peacefully at his home in Seattle, Wash., on Thursday, June 13 – a special date to John, as it is the birth date of his elder daughter and his favorite poet, William Butler Yeats.
John was one of a kind. Unlike many men today, he wore his heart on his sleeve. He couldn't hide an emotion if his life depended on it. He knew how to hit a golf ball, a nerve and grow just about anything in the garden, but perhaps his best talent was his way with the written word.
Most recently, a perfect day for John included spending time in the backyard with his grandsons, a mid-afternoon nap, making his own version of the Gramercy's peas and shells for dinner and heading to a billiards tournament later in the evening, all while stirring up some political debates on Facebook. He rarely went a day without making a new friend or being de-friended by an old one, and he never let an opportunity pass to tell a story about Pittston.
John was born in Pittston to William "Pidge" A. Watson Jr. and Gloria F. Manganiello on June 28, 1955. His brother, William "Cowboy" A. Watson III was born just 10 months later and the loving sibling rivalry began.
John spent much of his youth with his grandparents, William and Marion (Dessoye) Watson, Pittston, and John and Grace (Leonard) Manganiello, Exeter.
He attended St. John's for elementary and middle school. After a year at Scranton Prep, he transferred to Pittston Area and graduated in the class of 1973. He attributed his school transfer to wanting to attend school with his first love, future wife and mother of his children, Bonnie Flannelly, whom he married in 1977.
John spent much of his professional life at the Sunday Dispatch, which was founded by his grandfather and John Kehoe in 1947. John wrote a weekly column for the Dispatch that was often about local or national politics and occasionally about his personal life. A column about a boating fiasco on the Susquehanna with one of his "little rascals" won him an award from the Pennsylvania Publishers' Association.
He later became the newspaper's publisher and spent time writing a golf column for The Times Leader. Until his last day, he looked back on his years with the newspaper as the best times of his life and considered everyone he had worked with as family.
He was a member of Glenmaura National Golf Club and Fox Hill Country Club, where he cherished playing in tournaments such as the John Allan, Presidents Cup and the Maniac Open. In the days before cell phones, his family members knew if he was not at the Dispatch or on the golf course, he could be found at the Gramercy having lunch with his closest friends.
During his last few years in Pennsylvania, he spent time living at Lake Winola, where he forged a relationship with Halleluyah Walcott, whom he considered his son. He also welcomed friends and family for many memorable gatherings.
In 2000, John moved to Florida to live closer to his mother and to enjoy what he hoped would be a leisurely lifestyle filled with tee-times and happy hours. John humorously referred to the following years, after his mother's death and the tech bubble burst, as his "tropical depression."
In the years that followed, he moved to the small, quiet town of Avon, Colo., to live near his daughter, Juli, and her husband, Ryan. While he worked the front desk at the St. James Place, he became an accomplished skier and reconnected with family.
After the birth of his first grandson, he moved to Seattle to live near his daughter, Pamela, and her husband, Kevin. He fell in love with his new home in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, where he enjoyed a job at Pacific Studios, began writing again and found a truly special group of friends.
John was preceded in death by his parents.
He is survived by his children, Pamela and her husband, Kevin Rivers, Seattle; Juli and her husband, Ryan Walsh, Flourtown, Pa.; Halleluyah Walcott, Los Angeles, Calif.; brother and his wife, Bill and Debbie Watson, Broomfield, Colo.; grandchildren, Bernie and Luke Rivers, Seattle; former wife of 16 years, Bonnie Watson, Laflin; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces and friends.
John believed that the goal in life was to keep a peace, a sense of belonging, of loving and being loved in your heart even when everything seemed to be working against you. He admittedly was not entirely successful in this pursuit, but the abundance of much-appreciated cards and support received from his friends and Facebook followers alike is a great testimony to his life. His family is comforted in knowing he has finally found his peace.
Please come and celebrate his life on Friday at St. John the Evangelist Church, William Street, Pittston. Visitation will be held from 9 a.m. until Mass begins at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Care and Concern Ministries, 35 William St., Pittston, PA 18640.
Local arrangements are entrusted to the Peter J. Adonizio Funeral Home, 251 William St., Pittston. Online condolences may be made at www.peterjadoniziofuneralhome.com.