Community celebrates and mourns beloved Tom G. Watson

Born April 10, 1938, in Ardmore, Oklahoma, Watson died December 27, 2015, a resident of Sewanee, Tennessee for forty years. He is survived by his wife of fifty-two years, Gail H. Watson; sons, James Todd Watson and wife Virginia of Atlanta, Georgia, and Thomas Gregory Watson and wife Helen of Lapine, Alabama; grandchildren, Katherine Elizabeth Watson, James Todd Watson Jr., Davlena Carmela Scales, and David Joseph Scales; sister-in-law, Ruth Hill Shelton and husband Gene, sister-in-law, Connie Monroe Hill; four nephews and their families and several cousins.

Watson earned his B.A. degree magna cum laude in 1960 from Oklahoma Baptist University, his M.A. in 1961 from The University of Arkansas, his M.L.S from Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts, 1971 and an Honorary Alumnus from the University of the South in 1994. He taught at the University of Southern Mississippi, 1962-1967, Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts, 1967-1968 and Bridgewater State College in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, 1968-1973. After receiving his M.L.S., Watson became the Assistant Director of the Library at Bridgewater. In 1973 he became Director of the Library at Newberry College, Newberry, South Carolina. In 1976 Watson came to the University of the South in Sewanee as University Librarian. Watson became Assistant to Vice-Chancellor Robert M. Ayers in 1981, the Interim Dean of Administration for The School of Theology and Interim Directory of the Education for Ministry Program from 1985-1986. In 1986, he became Vice- President of University Relations at Sewanee. After a heart attack and open heart surgery in 1994, Watson returned to the University Library as University Librarian until his retirement in 2004. Watson continued to serve the University and the community after retirement when he was asked to return for several positions. He served as the Director of St. Mary’s Sewanee and the University’s Director of Archives and Special Collections.

Watson was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, serving as President, 2004-2005, EQB Club President, 1979-1980 and 2004-2005, Monteagle Rotary Club, Executive Board, St. Andrews-Sewanee Episcopal School Board Trustees, St. Mary’s Sewanee Conference Center Executive Board and Treasurer and Interim Directory, Co-Chair of the Friends of Du-Pont Library, 2006-2008, the Sewanee Chorale, Treasurer, the Center for Ministry in Small Churches Board of Directors, Franklin County Foundations for Educational Excellence Board of Directors 1999-2004, Southern Tennessee Medical Center Board of Directors, serving as Vice-Chair 2001-2002, Franklin County Health and Educational Facilities Bon Board, Vice-Chair and Chairman 1998-2001, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge USA, Board of Directors, 1985-1995, Treasurer, 1986-1995, Appalachian Ministries Educational Resources Center, Executive Board, 1985-1989, Emerald-Hodgson Hospital, Sewanee Board of Trustees, 1983-1986, Franklin County Library Board of Trustees, 1984-1988, the Sewanee Civic Association, serving as President, 1981-1982 and Board of Directors 1980-1983, the American Library Association, Southeastern Library Association, Tennessee Library Association. He has been honored in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, and Outstanding Educators of America.

During his career in higher education, Watson mentored first-time academic library directors, worked on task force to create a shared on-line digital library for the Associated College of the South, created a formal organization of the directors of the libraries of the thirty-five member Appalachian Colleges Association and was elected a permanent member of the executive committee for the ACA in 1996, was a paid consultant for Berry College in Rome, Georgia, the Salvation Army Training College in Atlanta, Georgia, Codrington Anglican Theological College in St. John, Barbados, Newberry College in Newberry, South Carolina, and Montreat College in Montreat, North Carolina, served on the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Accreditation visiting teams, and served on the American Library Association accreditation committee to accredit graduate library schools. Watson has also written many articles for publication and presented numerous papers at meetings, workshops, colleges and conventions.

Watson’s funeral was held in All Saints’ Chapel at 11:00 a.m on Saturday, January 16, with burial in the University Cemetery. A reception afterward was held in Convocation Hall.

Obituary courtesy of Moore-Cortner Funeral Home

Leave a Reply