Donald James "Judge" Watkins
1927 - 2021
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Donald James "Judge" Watkins
September 10, 1927 - February 6, 2021
State College, Pennsylvania - Donald James "Judge" Watkins passed away peacefully at the age of 93 on Saturday, February 6th, surrounded by family while watching home movies.
He was born on September 10th, 1927 in Doctor Glenn's office on Pugh Street in State College, Pennsylvania. He was the second child and only son of Ruth and Ray Watkins, who lived in a newly built house on the outskirts of town at 127 East Prospect Avenue. He attended the grade school on Fraser Street and moved up the hill to attend the State College Area High School on Fairmont Ave., where he lettered in football, wrestling and track. During High School, he earned his Eagle Scout award with Troop 1 (now Troop 31) at St Paul's United Methodist Church in State College. One high school summer, he and a friend rode their bicycles from State College to Canada to the seashore and back, camping along the road the entire way. Immediately upon graduation, he enlisted in the US Navy and was sent to the Pacific, where he served on a destroyer (USS John R. Craig, DD885) during the Second World War. After Japan was defeated, he served with the occupation forces in Japan and China, which was the only time in his 93 years that he spent an appreciable amount of time away from State College. Upon his discharge, he returned home and attended the Pennsylvania State College (now PSU), where he was a brother in Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and lettered in wrestling, lacrosse and the intercollegiate boxing championship. He was the Penn State Wrestling Distinguished Alumnus for 2016. After earning a master's degree in Physical Education, he was hired by Penn State, where he spent over 30 years teaching in the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. He also worked with the football, soccer, wrestling, basketball and lacrosse teams as a trainer and coach.
He was a model citizen and served on various boards and committees in the State College Borough. He was also active in local sports, where he pitched softball for Rider Oldsmobile and was a formidable opponent in the faculty handball, squash, racquetball, softball and bowling leagues. He could often be seen abusing the grass on the Penn State golf courses. He served as an Assistant Scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts for many years. He was a devoted Life Member of the Alpha Fire Company, serving over 55 years with them, and was named their Fire Fighter of the year in 2001. He was a lifetime member of the State College Masonic Temple and a 38-year member of American Legion Post 245 of State College. He was honored as a hometown hero during 4thFest in 2013.
On March 12, 1960, he married fellow State High and Penn State Alum Diane Minor Drake, whose parents, Walter "Earle" and Evelyn, owned the Treasure House gift shop on College Ave. They were loyal and proud Penn Staters who enjoyed tailgating and high-spirited home games. Together they enjoyed playing bridge with their friends, golf, gardening, and fishing at their cottage in Canada where they had spent their honeymoon. They loved the outdoors. Their favorite times were with family and friends at their cabins. They built a house on East Irvin Avenue, where they raised two children and lived happily until Dee passed away in 1992. After nearly 28 years, they can be together again at last.
Don will be remembered as a loving husband, father and grandfather. He was a true friend, a man of integrity and commitment and an honorable patriot. Don is survived by his two children, Donald Joseph "DJ" Watkins and his wife, Carol, and Sue Ruth, both of State College and 5 Grandchildren, Tyler Meek and his wife Haillie of Guilford, CT, Olivia Watkins of Tacoma, WA and Sarah, Samantha and Donny Watkins all of State College, his nephew, Phil Crabtree of State College and his niece, Cathy Wirick of London, Ontario, Canada. In addition to his wife and parents, he was preceded in death by his beloved sister, Phyllis Watkins Crabtree. Both of his children and all of his grandchildren who are old enough are PSU Alumni and a grandchild is currently a student there.
The Watkins family would like to thank the caregivers of Wynwood House at Green Hills and Hospice for the love and care they showed Don throughout the years. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no public services at this time, but the family will host a celebration of life gathering once the restrictions are lifted. We look forward to sharing memories and stories of Don with his friends and loved ones at that time. Details for the gathering will be shared through the obituary sections when determined. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alpha Fire Company Memorial Scholarship fund or Boy Scout Troop 245 in care of American Legion Post 245.


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Published in Centre Daily Times on Feb. 10, 2021.
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Memories & Condolences
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6 entries
February 16, 2021
So very saddened by the loss of such an amazing man. Brought me many laughs. I’ve spent hours upon hours with this man and there was not a single time we both weren’t cracking up laughing about something. He was truly a grandpa to me. I loved this man so very much. I remember coming back to work after the birth of my son walking into his room and he saw me and said “hey where have you been looks like you lost some weigh!” This man laughed so hard he had tears in his eyes. He was so excited when I told him I’d be bringing my son to see him. He waited very impatiently outside of the Wynwood House and would ask me every couple of minutes when he was getting there. Watching this man light up with so much joy when placing my son in his arms brought tears to my eyes. Such an amazing family he had and I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to meet them as well. Such a tight knit bunch which is hard to come by these days. He will forever have a place in my heart. I never had the chance to get this picture to him and hope it reaches the family as well! Such a beautiful soul! ❤
Kayla Strouse
Friend
February 12, 2021
We are so sad to hear of his passing. Don was always such a joy to have in the barber shop. His big smile and witty personality will be greatly missed by all of us at the Allenway Barber Shop!
Charity McClain
February 10, 2021
I will always remember Don, he has touched so many people. Always had a smile on his face. He loved to talk about football. He loved going outside and tanning his knees and head. He loved my homemade chicken noodle soup and that made me happy. Everyone at Wynwood just loved him, staff and residents! RIP Don. Forever in my heart. Prayers and comfort for family. ❤
Sharon.....chef at Wynwood House
Sharon
Friend
February 10, 2021
Dear Watkins family,
I am deeply sorry to hear about Don's passing this weekend. "Neighbor Don" has been a beloved friend and neighbor for the last 20 years. I loved chatting with Don over the fence, mostly about our gardens and the rabbits & groundhogs who enjoyed the buffet. Or about our dogs' antics (I think he got a kick out watching my two), and trips north to go fishing in the summer. Later, we chatted about my kids, who especially enjoyed wearing their costumes to go around the block to show 'Mr. Don". He always asked me what was happening at the university, what I was teaching, and was quick to offer help for taming "George's jungle" or to bring a truck load of garden fertilizer. Please accept my most sincere condolences, with love, "Neighbor Mary Beth".
February 10, 2021
Dear Sue and DJ -
Jeanne and I were sad to see the news of your father's passing. It has been a long time since we last saw him, but we have very fond memories of your dad and your dear mother when we were neighbors on Irvin Ave. My own connection to your dad goes back much further, to the days when he was a close friend of my uncle Joe Porter. Don was a terrific person who set a fine example for all who knew him. We send our deepest sympathy to you and all the family.

Richard Porter
Jeanne and Richard Porter
Friend
February 10, 2021
Donnie was a treasured member of our Physical Education faculty and I’m just glad I had the privilege of serving with him at Penn State at the end of his career when I was a rookie. He was quietly humble and always had a smile on his face. I’ll always see him crossing Atherton to teach students lucky enough to be in his golf class andI learned never to play squash with him as I didn’t like to lose. My sincerest condolences to the family. Thank you sir for your service to our country. He lived the words of our beloved State College and Penn State Alma Mater. He will be sorely missed
Mike Morse
Coworker
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