July 16, 1928 – January 28, 2018
William M. “Bill” Watson, 89, of Quincy, Wash., passed away Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. He was born on July 16, 1928 to Robert W. Watson and LaVinna Christopherson Watson in Eden, Idaho. He was the oldest of three children. The family moved often across the western United States due to his father’ employment.
While attending John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, Calif., he enlisted in the Marine Corps March 4, 1946 of his senior year. Bill was honorably discharged in May of 1947. He moved to Metaline Falls, Wash. where he was able to finish his senior year of high school. After graduating, he enrolled in the University of Idaho at Moscow, where he studied geology and was a promising star on the football team his freshman year. In order to finance the following year at college, Bill had to get a job. He chose construction with his father, learning to be a diamond core drill operator. He liked the tough work, so he decided to continue in dam construction. Bill did preliminary drilling for many dam sites throughout the Pacific Northwest including Umatilla Dam, Wells Dam, Bonneville Dam, The Dalles Dam, Dry Falls Dam and Brownlee Dam. He also drilled for the Ohio State Turnpike and the irrigation tunnel through the Frenchman Hills in Washington state.
While working on the Dry Falls Dam in Coulee City, he came to Quincy where he met Norma Beckemeier. Bill and Norma were married at the now-historic Lutheran church in Quincy on Sept. 30, 1950. They eventually settled in Quincy where Bill started work for the Quincy Lumber Company and started their family. He started buying farm ground in the 1950s. Bill worked for other farmers to learn farming and to help pay for needed equipment. He advanced from the original 20 acres to quite a few more acres now. In the spring of 1967, Bill and Norma purchased farmland south of town, which included a farmhouse where they still reside today. Over the years, Bill has farmed potatoes, onions, sugar beets, field and sweet corn, peas, beans, carrots, wheat, hay, apples, pears and cherries. He was Conservation Farmer of the year in 1969.
Bill was passionate about civic involvement. Over the years he has served the community in many ways. Bill was active in the Quincy JayCees, refereed high school basketball for over 30 years, was a member of the Quincy Rotary Club where he received the Paul Harris award, served on the Quincy School Board for many years and was president of the Washington Potato Growers Association and president of the National Onion Association. While serving as the Quincy Irrigation District president, he also was on the Grand Coulee Project Hydroelectric Authority which oversaw the building of several small hydropower plants and the negotiation of power purchase contracts with the cities of Seattle and Tacoma and the Grant County PUD. Bill was instrumental in bringing to near-completion the Quincy Columbia Basin Irrigation District. He was on the Washington State Water Resource Association board of directors, which provides service to nearly all the public irrigation districts in the state of Washington. At the time of his passing, Bill was the president of the congregation at their church, Christ the Savior Lutheran Church in George, Wash.
Bill enjoyed traveling with his family and taking his grandchildren on trips. He was an avid golfer, hunter and fisherman. Bill lived to see his first great-grandson born last fall, who is named Will, after him. Bill was always known to have a good story or a witty one-liner, followed by a great chuckle and a twinkle in his eye. We miss him so much already.
Bill is survived by his wife of over 67 years, Norma; his three daughters Christine Watson of Mountain Home, Idaho, Jody (Steve) Lund of Quincy and Billie Jean Watson of Ephrata; his four grandchildren Jacqueline “JJ” (Tyson) Sturza of Connell, Steven Skylar and Robert Lund of Quincy; one great-grandson William Sturza of Connell; his brother-Richard (Jan) Watson of Tuscon, Ariz.; his sister JoAnn (Quentin) Hansom and sister-in-law Lana Fischer of Lake Chelan and many nieces and nephews including Warren (Daphne) Beckemeier of Quincy and Pat (Sam) Coumbs of Puyallup.
Bill’s Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018 at 11 a.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 716 Third Ave. SE, Quincy, Wash. Coffee and desserts will be served following the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to any of the following: Christ the Savior Lutheran church in George, Wash., the Rotary scholarship fund, Quincy Valley Historical Society and museum, or Cancer Can’t non-profit.
Please leave a memory for the family or sign their online guestbook at www.scharbachs.com. Scharbach’s Columbia Funeral Chapel, Quincy, is assisting the family with arrangements.