J. L. (Butch) Watson was born in Dyer Co., Tennessee, near Dyersburg, TN, and went to school and grew up in that same community.
At the age of 16, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and served for two years in Swannee, TN., on the farm of Sergeant York. He was later transferred to Jackson, TN., and from there to Corvallis, Oregon, for six months and later transferred back to Camden, TN., where he was discharged. He joined the CCC to be of help to his family, which consisted of three older sisters, a younger brother and sister and two half-sisters and a half brother.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he knew he would be drafted, so he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and received his basic training in San Diego, CA. After basic training he was assigned to the Special Service of the Armed Guard as Specialist of Ammunition. He served in the Navy for the duration of the war and discharges two months after the war, on September 27, 1945.
He says his worst battle was the "Battle of Market Street" when he was on shore patrol on V-Day.
He served for four years, eleven months and 25 days in the Military Reserves and was recalled on active duty, served for 18 months and was discharged on December 24, 1951.
In the spring before Pearl Harbor, he met and fell madly in love with his future bride, Mary (Sue) Ross but vowed not to ask her to marry him because he was entering the US Military and didn't want maybe leave her a young widow. He changed his mind six weeks later and proposed by mail and since her answer was "Yes", he mailed her an engagement ring. They were married on November 1, 1943, while on short leave and lived 73 years together.
After his second discharge he attended William R. Moore School of Technology in Memphis, TN., and worked part-time at Western Auto in the Sales Department. After graduation, since Memphis was not a good place for Electrical Engineering, he worked for the New York Terminal Field Warehousing as Auditor for two years but got tired of traveling so often so he left and went to work for Pepsi Cola as Route Salesman and worked for that company for 30 years, retiring at age 65. He had several promotions over the years and his last position was General Manager of all the Route Salesmen and Cashier of the Sales Department.
They moved on March 8, 1988, to Orlando, Florida, to be near their only son, and planned to open a Barbecue business, for which Memphis is well known, but that seem to be God's plan, so he then went to work on May, 1988, for Mears Transportation Co., as a bus driver. On December 1, 1988, he was appointed as the # 1 Bus Driver for the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Hotel, who had the contract with Mears to carry only their guest to and from all four of Disney Parks and in the last few years also included Sea World and Universal. Working as a bus driver was an answer to his dreams and worked there for 18 years, retiring on May 5, 2006, at the age of 83. He and Sue then sold their house and moved into the Good Samaritan Village on September 6, 2006, and he said that retirement was the worst thing he had ever done, but his heart said, "This is it".
Having loved sports, especially baseball, basketball and football, after retiring he became a very dedicated shuffleboard player and through this sport, spent much of his time "Witnessing for the Lord", who was always No. 1, in his life though many may not have thought that. He was a Christian before going into the US Navy but he and Sue were both Baptists and members of the Baptist Church soon after his final discharge.
He served in many ways - teaching young teenagers in Sunday School plus ushering and became an active Deacon in 1983. They became members of the GSCC soon after moving to the Village and many knew him because of his volunteer work in the Village library.
His words to anyone here today is " if you have not accepted the Lord as your Savior - DO IT NOW - You are not promised the next minute and you don't want to not be ready.
The family will receive friends on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 form 10:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. at the Good Samaritan Community Church at Good Samaritan Village, Kissimmee, Florida. A Service to Celebrate the life of J.L. Watson Jr. will be held on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 11:00 A.M. at the Good Samaritan Community Church. Interment will follow at Woodlawn Memorial Park, Orlando where he will be accorded Military honors.
The Watson family is requesting that memorial contributions may be made to Cornerstone Hospice at O.R.M.C. in Orlando, Florida.
The Watson family is being cared for by: CONRAD & THOMPSON FUNERAL HOME, 511 Emmett Street, Kissimmee, Florida 34741; 407-847-3188.