Joseph Watts(1922 - 2013)

Joseph A. Watts

Canton, Mississippi

Joseph Anderson Watts, Commander, United States Navy, retired, took his final flight surrounded by his family on April 4, 2013. He was preceded in death by his wife of sixty three years, May Carolyn; sisters, Alice Barrett and Mary Cook, and brother Henry Oscar Watts of Nashville, TN.

He was born on January 12, 1922 in Nashville, TN. He joined the U.S. Navy on December 9, 1941, just two days after Pearl Harbor was bombed. His first duty was at the University of Georgia "pre-flight," then to St. Louis for flight school. He graduated in August 1942 in Pensacola, FL where he earned his gold wings. In September 1943, while piloting a PBY-5 on a bombing mission, he and his crew of 12 sank a Japanese submarine that caused him & his crew to crash into the gulf 700 nautical miles from land. After 4 days and nights in a life raft in the Pacific, the crew was picked up by a Dutch freighter.

He spent 2 years on submarine patrol in San Diego, California where he flew PBM's; then his duty was in PB2Y's, a 4 engine seaplane. He would take off every afternoon at sunset to arrive at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii by daylight. He and his crew hauled cargo one way, then picked up medical crew and 55 severely wounded to fly them to Alameda, CA. He served on many ships, flew many different planes, and as a tail hooker, made over 200 carrier landings during his service. On Navy Day, November 1945, he was awarded a certificate for a World Record Takeoff in just 5.6 seconds in his PBM seaplane. He served his country with distinction for 26 years from December 1941 to November 1967.

After the war, he moved to Canton, MS and married May Carolyn Smith on March 20, 1948. He established a jewelry and gift store in 1948, where he was a watchmaker by trade. It later became known as Noble-Watts Jewelers, which is now owned and operated by his children.

He was a Mason, Shriner, and member of the Royal Order of the Jesters. He was a former member of Canton Lions Club, where he was twice honored as Man of the Year. He was a member of First United Methodist Church of Canton. He is survived by his son Joe Watts, Jr. (Diane) of Canton, daughter Alice Jean Hawkins (Lee) of Madison, grandchildren Alice Chaney Herndon (Drew), Carolyn Grace Fincher (William), & Jay Watts (Bree) all of Madison, step grandchildren Kimberly Pratt, Allison Townsend, & Cindy Penn all of Canton, great grandchildren Parker & Anderson Herndon, Ty & Allibrier Townsend, Taylor Pratt, Daven Watts, & Alex Penn, and special nephew Bucky Barrett of Nashville, TN. A special heartfelt thanks to his loving caregivers Jackie Dortch, Payola King, & Sherlonda King.

Visitation will be on Saturday, April 6, 2013 from 12 Noon until the 2:00 pm funeral service at the First United Methodist Church with interment in the Canton Cemetery.

He always said, "I am no more patriotic than anyone else, but the country not worth fighting for is not worth living in; it would not be the land of the free if not for the home of the brave."

Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church, 3301 South Liberty Street, Canton, MS 39046.

An online guestbook is available at



Funeral Home

Breeland Funeral Home
3304 South Liberty Street Canton, MS 39046
(601) 859-3661

Published in Clarion Ledger on Apr. 6, 2013