Don O Watkins
1927 - 2016
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1927 - 2016
Don O. Watkins, of Levittown, New York, passed away from cancer on December 8, 2016, at 89, surrounded by loving family at the Hospice Inn in Melville, New York.
Don was born in Wauseon Ohio in 1927 to Orra and Florence Watkins. He was an outstanding student-athlete and inducted into Wauseon's academic and athletic halls of fame.
Don served in the Army during WWII. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Denison University and earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy and Sociology of Education from Yale University. His Denison football coach, Woody Hayes, called Don one of the most remarkable young men he ever knew.
Don met his wife, Barbara, at camp when they were fourteen years-old. They reunited after WWII and married in 1950. In 1960, they moved to New York when Don started teaching at Brooklyn College in the City University of New York (CUNY).
Don remained an educator for the rest of his life, as professor, dean, and academic Vice President. His career focused on civil and human rights, organizational behavior and higher education. He taught and mentored countless students and educators at Brooklyn, Medgar Evers, Hostos and Baruch colleges, and CUNY's Graduate Center, and also served as a university ombudsman for many years. In 1995, he retired as Professor Emeritus after receiving CUNY's Presidential Excellence Award.
Don was deeply committed to civil rights, marching on Washington with Martin Luther King, Jr., serving as a community advisor after the 1965 Watts crisis, directing studies on employment discrimination, protesting apartheid, and serving on CUNY's affirmative action committee until 2015. When he was arrested during a 1985 anti-apartheid protest, the supervising NYPD officer recognized Don as his former professor and hugged him, to the surprise of officers and protestors alike.
Don's humanitarian interests were international in scope and, in 1982, he became Vice President of the U.S.-China Education Foundation. For the next thirty years, he frequently traveled to China while fostering relations in higher education.
Don was also active in his community of Levittown, New York, serving two terms as an elected school board member, including as Vice President and President.
Don was a devoted son, brother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and husband. He was always present for his children, a joyful grandfather and great-grandfather, and loving husband to Barbara, his wife of sixty-six years.
Don is survived by his wife, Barbara; children, Beth Sturman, Kurt (Catherine) Watkins, Thomas (Patricia) Watkins, and Christopher (Martha) Watkins; grandchildren, Kerrie (Woo) Kang, BriAnne Watkins, Cristina (Richard) Kingston, William Sturman, Matthew Watkins, and Bryan Watkins; great-grandchildren, Hana, Audrey, and Isla; and sister, Joan Domeck, and brother, Roger (Sue) Watkins. Don was predeceased by sister Rachel (Robert) Ellis and brother Harold (Evelyn) Watkins.
Memorial service on Tuesday, December 27 at 4:00 p.m., at the Thomas F. Dalton funeral home, 2786 Hempstead Turnpike, Levittown, NY 11756, preceded by calling hours from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Donations may be made in Don's memory to Habitat for Humanity or a charity of the donor's choosing.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in New York Times from Dec. 13 to Dec. 14, 2016.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
DEC
27
Calling hours
02:00 - 04:00 PM
DEC
27
Memories & Condolences
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27 entries
March 8, 2017
evelyn brisbon-smith
March 8, 2017
My heart/mind/soul felt condolences to the Watkins family! I first met Dr. Watkins being his adminstrative secretary during the formation of Medgar Evers College in 1972. Kept in touch on special occasions annually for 45 years since! He was truly a well rounded, honored and loved person!!! and, i will miss him tremendously!! May The Lord's peace envelope and sustain all who were a part of his life!!!
evelyn brisbon-smith
December 31, 2016
Here is a link to a memorial video for Don on YouTube:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6Bt8NBBaYeA

Dad, we miss you and love you...
Chris Watkins
December 27, 2016
Don was my mentor during the first few years of my professional career at Baruch College. There has been, and there will always be, a special place in my heart for him......
Ping Xu
December 27, 2016
I fondly remember family times with the Watkins and McClure's get togethers! Corralling all us kids together and sharing play time was extra special for us girls, and we aways looked forward to visiting with the Watkins! Our fathers had a lot in common and loved to talk, and our mothers are so loving! I also love Barbara's famous chocolate chip cookies! I reached out to Don and Barbara about 6-8 months back and they both got on the phone and I sang to them. Don corresponded with me via email and kept up with the modern times. What a brilliant and kind-hearted man, always with a warm smile and warm word. Say hi to Muriel and Dick McClure for me Don. Love and Blessings to you as you join the Angels! Wendy Maude McClure
Wendy McClure
December 27, 2016
To the Watkins Family:

My condolences and heartfelt sympathy go to all of you. As you know, Don Watkins was and exceptional person who gave us a living example of what a we all should strive to be. I knew him to be a fair, thoughtful, extremely brilliant colleague when we worked at Baruch College. He will be missed, but think about how blessed we were to have had him in our lives.
Audrey Williams Myers
December 27, 2016
Don was a teacher, mentor in my school years and an adviser during my professional life at Baruch and great friend. An amazing man indeed and I will hold dear my memories of him!
Aurea (Abby) Santana, New York City
December 26, 2016
To the Watkins family, Dr. and Mrs. Watkins were great friends of our parents and were like Uncle and Aunt to us since our families spent many Sunday afternoons together. I speak for myself and my sisters in offering your family our most sincere condolences at this sad time. We have a deep appreciation for having known Rev. Watkins, an individual of rare integrity, character, conviction and trustworthiness. This world is a better place because of people like Rev. Watkins. It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to such a special Husband, Father, Uncle and Friend...
Jeannine McClure
December 26, 2016
Don was my friend and colleague at Baruch. Truly, a great man: intelligent, sensitive, and kind. Just amazing!
Roslyn Bernstein
December 25, 2016
Don with grandson Billy
December 25, 2016
Don relaxing
December 25, 2016
Don in China
December 25, 2016
December 25, 2016
Don, Barbara, and great-granddaughter Isla
December 25, 2016
Jim Gype (I believe) and Don
December 25, 2016
Don's dad holding baby Roger and his mother Florence sitting below
December 25, 2016
Hal, Roger, Joan, Rachel, Don
December 25, 2016
Army buddies, Don on left
December 25, 2016
Don and Barbara
December 25, 2016
Chris Watkins
December 24, 2016
Don (right) with brother Harold and cousin Jeanette, August 22, 1937
I enjoyed meeting Don at one of the Watkins reunions held in Fulton County Ohio in the 1990s. My mother (his cousin) and father enjoyed showing them Yosemite when they visited California a number of years ago. My condolences to the family.
Dick Estel
December 21, 2016
To a great friend Kurt...So sorry to hear about the passing of your dad. Remembering the good times.
Harold Wasserman
December 21, 2016
What an amazing man you were blessed to call your father, Beth. We are so sorry for your loss.
Brian&Sonja Haggert
December 19, 2016
I will forever cherish many memories of Don Watkins. He was a high school friend, a teammate in football and a scholar. We were drafted into the Army together in 1945. Through the years we have always been in touch. Rest in peace my friend. Ned E. Baker
Ned Baker
December 15, 2016
Many fond memories of Don as we were life-long friends from Wauseon, OH. We will miss him and his visits back here. He was a good person and a good friend. Our condolences to all his family.
Jim and Mary Gype
December 14, 2016
To or dear friend Don may you rest in peace
Ann Angehr
December 14, 2016
Dear Barbara and family Billy,Ann,Shannon and Kaila will never forget Don. He was the best neighbor anyone could ask for. His smiling face and thoughtfulness was one of his greatest aspects. Shannon and Kaila will always remember the kind words he always had for them. We will all miss him so much. So sorry for your loss. Ann & Billy Angehr & family
Ann Angehr
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