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WATSON Richard O. Watson, 78, died Tuesday morning. He was a native of St. Augustine and served as a Circuit Judge for the 7th Judicial Circuit from 1977 to 1996. Judge Watson graduated from Ketterlinus High School in 1951 where he played football, basketball, and baseball. He was selected to the all-conference and all-state teams in football, and in 2010, he was inducted into the Ketterlinus- St. Augustine High School Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the St. Augustine and St. Johns County Halls of Fame. Judge Watson attended the University of Florida on a football scholarship, and graduated with a degree in journalism. He attended the University of Florida Law School. He graduated first in his law school class with honors and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1960. Judge Watson served as an enlisted man in the U.S. Army and was later commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the Florida National Guard. He rose to the rank of Major. Judge Watson practiced law in Ft. Lauderdale for several years before returning to St. Augustine. In addition to his private law practice in St. Augustine, Judge Watson served for 7 years as a part-time assistant state attorney and 4 years as a part-time assistant public defender. He was elected to the St. Augustine City Commission in 1975 and he also served on numerous other public boards. Judge Watson was appointed to the bench in 1977 to replace Judge Howell Melton. He was twice elected by his fellow judges as the Chief Judge of the 7th Judicial Circuit and he also served as the administrative judge for St. Johns County for approximately 20 years. He continued to serve as a Senior Circuit Judge from 1996 to his death. In 2008, the St. Johns County Courthouse was renamed in his honor as the Richard O. Watson Judicial Center. Judge Watson was active in numerous community organizations, including Rotary. He was a Paul Harris Fellow. Judge Watson is survived by his wife of 50 years, Peggy Pope Watson of St. Augustine; three children: Richard C. Watson and his wife Lynn of Jacksonville; Jeffery P. Watson and his wife Susan of Jacksonville; and Edie Wetherell and her husband Kent of Tallahassee; six grandchildren; and a brother, Jerry H. Watson of Douglasville, Ga. He was preceded in death by his parents, Herman J. Watson and Ann S. Watson, and a brother, Donald S. Watson. Arrangements are pending for a celebration of Judge Watson's life. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Guardian Ad Litem Program of the 7th Judicial Circuit, 250 North Beach Street, Daytona Beach, FL, 32114, or the Bailey Family Center for Caring c/o Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, 400 Health Park Boulevard, St. Augustine, FL 32086. Please Sign the Guestbook @
Published in the Florida Times-Union on June 1, 2011
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