Major James Earl Watson
“Jim” Earl Watson, 81, of La Grange, Texas, passed away on Saturday,
September 14, 2013.
Jim was born in Huntsville, Texas on November 29, 1931, the son of the late
W.C. and Ruby (Safford) Watson.
Jim was the youngest of four children. His father was a Department of
Corrections employee so he was always fond of saying that he had been “born
in prison” since the family lived in a house for prison employees. He was
very active in the Boy Scouts of America and achieved the rank of Eagle
At age 18, he joined the USAF and served for 20 years, first as an enlisted
man and then as an officer. He retired in 1970 with the rank of Major at the
age of 38 and went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Texas A&M University
with a degree in Forest Science.
Jim had always wanted to fly and this dream was accomplished while in the
Air Force where he flew many different planes. “Anything with a propeller,”
he would say. He served in Japan, California, Massachusetts, the
Philippines, and spent a year flying in Vietnam. While in the Philippines,
he met and married, Andrea “Andy” Johanson, an Air Force nurse also
stationed in the Philippines. His dream continued even after retirement from
the Air Force when he was able to fly and do aerial photography for the
Texas Forest Service. While employed by the Texas Forest Service, Jim had
the opportunity to move to La Grange where he served for a number of years
as a District Forester. After leaving the Texas Forest Service, he completed
paramedic training and served for 15 years with Fayette County EMS.
Jim was very active in the First United Methodist Church after moving to La
Grange. He served on many committees, sang in the chancel choir and was very
instrumental in supervising the building of the church in its present
location. He was active in the “Walk to Emmaus” movement and he also served
on several mission teams including those to Panama, Costa Rica, Alaska,
Mexico, and the Navaho Reservation. He was also very involved with a youth
mission program called, UMArmy, and helped lead several teams to small towns
in Texas where they did repairs on homes for low income families. Jim was
the main stay of the La Grange Lunch Bag Program and worked every day he
could passing out lunches to La Grange children. He was also a hospice
volunteer winning the Green Jacket Award. Jim loved camping and hunting and
he passed his knowledge and love for nature along to his sons and all others
with whom he came in contact. He also loved woodworking and built much of
the furniture in his home. In later years, he became involved in Papillon
rescue and served as secretary and treasurer of Papillon Haven Rescue. He
and Andy also had the privilege of fostering and re-homing a large number of
these beautiful toy sized companion dogs.
Jim’s life was one of great faith. He loved his family, his country, and his
God. One of his favorite Bible verses speaks to how he chose to live his
life, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love
mercy and to walk humbly with your God,” Micah 6:8.
He is survived by his wife, Andy, who celebrated 50 years of marriage this
past August with many friends and family members present; two sons: James
“Jay” Watson and wife, Vicki, of La Grange and Dr. William “Bill” Watson and
wife, Melany, of Mt. Juliet, TN. He also leaves behind four grandchildren:
Brittany and Deke Neves, DDS of Montgomery, TX; Derek and girlfriend,
Kendall Kovar of La Grange, TX; Matthew and Joseph of Mt. Juliet, TN; and
great granddaughter, Aubree Neves of Montgomery, TX; sister, Jane Harkins;
niece, Kathy Rains and husband, Mike; nephew, Tracy Harkins and wife, Peggy,
all of Crockett, TX; nephew, Randy Harkins and wife, Vickie, of Spring, TX;
close family members: niece, Susan Speckels of Victoria, TX; Dr. Clyde
Watson of Midland, TX; and a multitude of family members and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Clyde and Ruby Watson; daughter by
his first marriage, Janice Elaine; sister, Ida Sue Masterson; and brother,
W. Clyde Watson.