Gary Stiles Watson, 78, formerly of Springfield, MA, passed away peacefully due to complications from Dementia and the COVID-19 virus on April 27, 2020. Gary was born in Hartford on March 3, 1942, son of the late Helen and Arthur Avery Watson. Gary grew up in Wethersfield, CT with 7 brothers and sisters, as well as numerous "Watson" uncles, aunts and cousins. After graduating Wethersfield High School, Gary attended Bates College where he gained numerous life-long friends. He graduated from University of Hartford in 1966. In 1969, he earned his M.Ed at Springfield College and began in the Teacher's Corps. He received his CAS in Counseling in 1974 at Springfield College as well. He had a passion for education. He was a respected English teacher in the Springfield, MA school district. He then became a guidance counselor at Classical High School, and finished his career as the Guidance Department Chair at Central High School in 2004 with almost 4 decades of mentoring students. As a member of the Western Massachusetts Counseling Association, he earned "Counselor of the Year" in 2001. He spent 15 summers working with the Summer Youth Employment Project and the MA Department of Employment and Training as a counselor. Over the years, he established life-long relationships with many of his students, including Ross and Elvis who continued to visit until his last days. He was the legal guardian for two of his students from Vietnam - Khanh Luu and Quoc Bao Tran. Boating was a passion and skill he learned as a child with his father and siblings. Gary loved the water and his regular trips to Cranberry Island, ME and Block Island, RI. Gary was an avid world traveler who enjoyed many trips to distant destinations, including South America, Asia, and Europe. Gary enjoyed celebrating birthdays and holidays with family and friends. He enjoyed gourmet food, fine wines, music and art/culture from all over the world. He was a sports enthusiast, a runner and a walker who loyally followed the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox. He walked every day for many years with his good friend Gerry. Mostly he lived each day gratefully and humbly. He was a beloved role model to nieces, nephews and students. During retirement, Gary volunteered his time to the American Cancer Society, providing rides for central Massachusetts' cancer patients to and from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Gary is survived by: his brother, Rev. Dr. Richard Watson (Susan), two sisters, Betty Anne Kottke (Al) and Judith Winer (David) and sister-in-law Wendy Watson. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Leslie Watson and two nieces that supported him through his life, Anne Talcott Watson of Glastonbury and Amanda Watson Hicks (Robert) of South Glastonbury and their children Abigail Marie Hicks and Colby Watson Hicks, who he enjoyed visits from in his CT years. He leaves many other Watson nieces and nephews. In addition to his large family, he leaves dear friends. Besides his parents, Gary was pre-deceased by his siblings: Joyce Willsey (Bill), Eunice Crosen (George) and brothers, Robert G. Watson and Thomas P. Watson. Gary was very appreciative of the care and companionship he received from the staff at The Atrium of Rocky Hill. His family would like to extend their gratitude for their care and bravery during this challenging virus. A gathering of family and friends will be held to celebrate his life at a later date. Because we can't gather now, memories are encouraged to be shared at www.desopofuneralchapel.com
Memorial donations in Gary's memory may be done online at www.communityfoundation.org
or be mailed to The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts/Attn: Arthur and Helen Watson Scholarship Fund. This will provide scholarship money to graduating high school students from Springfield, MA.
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Published by Hartford Courant on Apr. 30, 2020.