My father, James W. Watson
My father, Jim Watson, passed away on September 29, 2003, due to complications from a stroke.
He had gone into the hospital on Friday, April 4, 2003, for an outpatient check on his kidneys. He was expecting to go home that evening; he had made plans for the weekend. He never went back home again. A few days later, on Tuesday night or Wensday morning, April 9, he suffered a severe stroke that would progress to the point of paralyzing his left side and ruining his short term memory. He was discharged from the hospital and my brothers moved him into a rehab center for about 8 weeks. He did not improve. We then moved him into a critical care nursing home in North Dallas. That became his last place of residence.
His room in the Presbyterian Village North nursing home. Watson and his sons outside the nursing home.
He became weaker and less coherent. He was taken to ICU on Sunday, September 28. He was placed on a breathing machine. He and mother were explicit in their instructions that they did not want to be kept alive by machine. My brothers and I agreed to remove the machine. The breathing mask was removed about 4pm on Monday, September 29. He held on for 7 more hours. We had conversations - he even cracked a joke or two. He gradually became quieter and more still. His breathing slowed until he took his last breath at 11:13pm. With him that evening were his three sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren.
His best friend of 70 years and wife of 60 years had passed away on December 19, 2002, less than four months before his stroke. He had never quite gotten over her untimely death.
My brothers and I decided to sell his car during the summer and to sell our family home. We knew Watson would never go home again.
An estate sale was held on September 6&7. The house that we moved into in 1958 and in which my parents raised their three sons was sold on September 15, 2003.
My last visit to the house was Friday morning, September 26. The new owner/builder had his signs in the yard and there were 'No Trespassing' signs on the doors. The house was razed during December, 2003, to make way for a new larger house.
Taking him to see Alegria, Cirque du Soleil in Febuary, 2003. I wanted him to see Cirque that I have enjoyed so much. It reminded him of the circuses he saw in Europe - the music and the single ring. Although it was a bit tiring for him, we had a fun evening, just the two of us.
Crossword puzzles: we would read the clues and Watson would supply the word. Sometimes we helped him along. He really looked forward to the puzzles. By September, he was no longer able to concentrate long enough to do any more puzzles.
Breakfasts at Panera Bread and dinners at Buca de Bepo Italian restaurant during the summer. These were next to the rehab nursing home near NorthPark mall. We would get him into his wheelchair and wheel him across the street to the restaurants. He enjoyed getting out and being with his sons.
Sitting by his bed, holding his hand and talking with him.
Final wheelchair ride on Thursday, September 25. He hadn't been out of bed for weeks. The nurses were so pleased to see him out of the room. We went and sat outside in the fresh air. It would be his last breath of outside air.
The Thursday before he died on Monday, I visited him at Presbyterian Village. I did not want to leave him as I knew he would soon be gone forever (I do not believe I will see him in heaven.) I could have stayed with one of my brothers that night but I chose to sleep right there in his room - on the floor. It was uncomfortable but it felt good to be there. I wanted to stay with him as long as I could. I believed we would not
have much more time together (he died 3 days later). And, even though I had violated the Village's overnight procedures, a couple of the attending nurses brought in a stack of blankets and pillows so we could make a more comfortable floor bed.
He was not very responsive and he was hallucinating a lot. This conversation was during the night:
Dad: Jim, I'm ready to go. (He was probly just thinking about
going somewhere in the car, but it startled me a bit.)
Jim: Watson, whenever you're ready, you can go, its okay.
This conversation was the next afternoon
Jim: Watson, I'm going to go back to Oklahoma.
Dad: Have you got everything you need?
Jim: Yes. Thank you for all you've done
(for giving me everything I need).
Dad: Oh, thank you, Jim, for all your help.
Call me when you get home.
Jim: I'll call you.
Dad: Come see me soon.
Jim: I will. I love you. Bye, Watson.
When I left his room, I spent a few minutes in the lounge outside his room to regain my composure. I truly felt this would be the last time I would see him alive. I went back into the room to take one more look at my father. I whispered my love and thanks and said goodbye one last time.
I then walked out and quietly drove home to Oklahoma.
The next morning I wrote my brothers and told them that I felt it was time to let dad go. He deserved better than to live this way. Mom is gone, the house is gone, and, for all practical purposes, dad is gone, too.
On Monday morning, September 29, I got a phone call from my brother telling me to get back to Dallas as soon as I could. I flew back to Dallas to be with him when he took his last breath. At one time during his last hours, I was alone with him and we had our last talk. I again thanked him for his sacrifices and his love. I told him that I would always love him and always remember him. He squeezed one of my hands, kissed the other one that was stroking his head, and whispered, We love you.
There have been many times when I wish I could see him again or talk to him. I can't. Never again. But I am so glad I slept on the floor. That simple act gave me the satisfaction that I had done about all I could do to maximize our time together. It gives me joy that I treated him well and with the respect and love that he deserved. He had made many sacrifices so that I might have a better life. Much of what I am or have achieved is due to his influence.
Some of what I have learned by witnessing people close to me die:
• The fragility and uncertainty of life
• The need to rearrange priorities and adapt to circumstances beyond our control
• The need to appreciate health and life
• The desire to enjoy and cherish time with loved ones
There was a memorial service at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church on Saturday, October 4th. Our family had joined this church in 1952 and dad had been very active; 20 years singing in the choir, Christmas pageants, theatrical productions, emeritus group, youth groups, and the voice of the church as announcer for the radio broadcasts of the Sunday services. There was a large crowd. A couple of family friends spoke eloquently and adoringly about dad (see below) and the minister read statements from each of us sons.
The inurnment with the family was immediately before the service in the Columbarium courtyard near the sanctuary (pic above). Dad's cremains were put into the same niche where mom's were placed on December 24, 2002. Each son placed two photographs into the niche, to be with them forever.
A remembrance from a friend, Dave Lodwick
Thank you for asking me to speak for the men of the Men's Breakfast. Your dad was special to all of us.
The message that came to last Tuesday morning's Men's Breakfast (October 30) could hardly be called "completely unexpected", but, nonetheless, it drew a startled and audible gasp from the Early Birds breakfast group.
Jim Watson had been our friend and leader.
For years, Jim, Fuzzy Cox, and Hawkins Menefee had been the unofficial, but unquestioned, "executive committee" of the Men's Breakfast. They had sat together, collected the money, bought the food, recruited new attendees, planned the programs... whatever was required. For the past decade or so, Jim had been the one who called the breakfast group to order, asked for comments and jokes and sick reports and prayer requests and birthday and anniversary announcements, had led our singing, scheduled and introduced the programs, dismissed us. Jim had been the breakfast meeting leader.
Jim's family should know that the forty men at the breakfast last Tuesday stood as one, in prayer and in tribute to Jim Watson.
Before they did that, Jim's friends around the Tuesday morning breakfast tables wanted to recall some cherished Jim Watson stories.
One colleague recounted how Jim had been such an important part of the international success of the renowned petroleum consulting firm of DeGolyer and MacNaughton. Jim had traveled the world over to consult with governments and businesses. He had done that with outstanding professional knowledge and skill and with unusual personal grace and integrity.
Others recalled how Jim had kept meticulous records of all of his hundreds of trips. He had a record of where he had gone, when, and, even how many miles were involved. Can you imagine the discipline it took to do that? When that story was recounted, another held up the notebook that Jim had kept at the Early Birds breakfasts. This was an attendance record for each of the Tuesdays since 1983. Each Tuesday, without fanfare, indeed without awareness of the men there, Jim recorded who attended the breakfast. That way, he could call, or ask someone to call, those who might be among the missing. Discipline.
A favorite story about Jim among the men is that he was a confidant and recurrent house guest of J. Paul Getty. If ever there was a tribute to an oil man's professional skill and his personal discipline and integrity, this would be one. Jim, for more than 20 years, was the trusted friend of the world's most famous oil man, a man who trusted few men.
And, you know, Jim might have been a career professional musician. Even that was important to the breakfast meetings. The men at Tuesday breakfasts are real life heroes, business, civic, and church leaders, but few can sing. Jim could. Each week, with perfect pitch and appropriate tempo, he started and led us through a hymn. I was so amazed by this skill that I spoke to him about it. That's when he told me that he had considered a professional music career. It's an uncommon combination of skills - musician and engineer.
But, then, Jim was an uncommon man. A man's man. Big, strong, deep voiced, professional, smart, honest, plain spoken, family man, committed Christian.
Most Tuesdays, Jim ceded the closing to Blair (church minister). But when Blair could not be there, Jim invariably would close the meeting by saying, "Let's stand and pray the Lord's Prayer and prepare to meet the day." That statement told about Jim. Able as he was, he looked for God's help in meeting the challenges of the day.
Calendar of events
• Friday, April 4, 2003: Admitted to hospital for an outpatient check on his kidneys. He was expecting to go home that evening; he had made plans for the weekend. He never went back home again. A few days later, on Tuesday night or Wensday morning, April 9, he suffered a severe stroke that would progress to the point of paralyzing his left side and ruining his short term memory. He was discharged from the hospital and my brothers moved him into a rehab center for about 8 weeks. He did not improve. We then moved him into a critical care nursing home in North Dallas. That became his last place of residence.
• Sunday April 6
Phone call about Dad in hospital since Friday. Breathing concerns.
• Monday April 7
Called Dad late afternoon. Good talk.
• Wensday April 9
9:10: Bill called - Dad had a stroke Tuesday pm/Wensday am.
Took walk - decided I had to go home.
Wrote emails with instructions for Linda, classes, AIGA.
9:30: Went home, packed, sat outside in rocker. Loaded car and dogs.
10:40: Drove to Dallas. Tough drive, napped in grass at McDonald's.
3:00: Got to hospital, 6th floor.
Took dogs to Orchid Lane, back to hospital until 11:30.
• Thursday April 10
Talk to Mom. Preston Center Starbucks.
10:15-3:15: Dad moved to room 305.
Home to walk dogs, watch game shows.
5:15-9:15: Hospital visits.
• Friday April 11
Hospital, lobby coffee.
Saw Dr. Whittaker (also Mom's doctor). Talked with social worker.
Lunch with Bill & Steve. Toured Presbyterian Village North.
Discussed strong possibility that Dad wouldn't go home to Orchid Lane - may go straight to PVN.
2:15-3:00: Hospital, lobby coffee, home, clean refrigerator.
Drive to Abrams PetSmart, dogs to White Rock Dog Park.
Orchid Lane: Look at files with Steve.
6:00-10:00: Hospital, Bill, Steve & Sandy til 7:30.
• Saturday April 12
Lunch at Central Market, drive Coit to High 5.
Let dogs out, pack.
1:00-3:15 Hospital, talk with Steve.
Home, phone messages, load car.
Say goodbye to Mom, drive to Edmond.
Love's, gas, coffee, walk dogs.
7:30: Home, unpack, laundry, mail.
Sent between April and October, 2003.
From: Jim Watson
To: Design faculty, College Dean
Wensday, April 9, 2003, 9:27a
My dad suffered a stroke this morning so I'm leaving for Dallas. One of my regrets with my mother's death is that I did not get to the hospital soon enough. I don't want that to happen again.
I need help:
Linda or Larry:
1. Go to Wensday 10am class, Graphic Design I, and collect the ambigram projects that are due today. Tell them no class today - turn in work and go. We should have class on Monday. Put projects on my desk - I will leave the office open (please lock it tonight).
2. Go to 2pm class, History of Graphic Design, Comm Building Auditorium room 120, and tell them no class today - move schedule back 1 week - Lecture 9 will be next Wensday.
3. Linda - you have a meeting today at 2.
1. I left the AIGA office slides and handouts with Linda. The program Thursday starts at 7:30 - maybe check in around 7pm. At MetroTech off MLK, between 36th & 50th - in the conference center. There's a map at http://www.metrotech.org Thanks.
2. ClockTower has a presentation to the Global Education Fund Thursday at 2pm. They are fine with that - ready to go. Please let them know I won't be there.
3. They have another presentation at 4pm for Spitfire Grill with Craig from Music. Not sure where they are with that - please check in with them and see if they need help. They are showing a tight rough or finished comp - depending on how far they've gotten.
There may be more details I'm forgetting. Everything else can probably wait - Tuition waivers, award nominees, MFA stuff.
Thanks for your help. Jim
Tuesday, June 10, 2003, 4:00p
How am I doing? Thanks for asking/caring - here's an update: I have accepted (or in the process of) that my dad is just waiting to die. My brothers and I had a meeting Monday with the nurses and rehabists - they all pretty much agree he is not trying too hard to overcome the affects of the stroke. They also informed us the stroke did more damage than we originally thought. They feel within 2 weeks he will stop making progress. When that happens, Medicare will stop paying for rehab and we will move him to another facility and pay for the nursing and rehab. He is clinically depressed about losing his best friend of 70 years and a spouse/partner of 60 years. He doesn't want to do anything - seems he has just has given up with options for life. Its hard to see my father who was a strong figure in my life become so helpless. I replace his diaper, clean up his shit, hold his dick while he pees into a urinal - stuff that, while I wasn't mentally prepared to do, I do because he needs me to.
Friday night I stayed in a hotel because it is too depressing to be in the house. We moved there when I was 8 years old so it is full of wonderful memories and most of those include my mother. He has not moved any of her things and so there are too many reminders all around the house. We took him to the house on Sunday to begin deciding what to sell, keep, etc. It feels better being in the house now because I am throwing things away and we are getting it ready to sell. The Sunday tour of the house with dad gave us the green light to clear it out (but there's 45 years of stuff) - we did not want to move anything until he had a chance to go through the house one last time. It was a bit strange for him but he knows he will never live there again (and he went to the hospital in April for some 'routine' stuff thinking he'd be back home that night).
I will go back a week from this Friday to be with him, help my brothers, and do more work on the house and its contents.
Bottom line -
1. There are tough times ahead.
2. I learned I am still grieving my mother's death.
3. I will go back on antidepressants when I go back to Dallas (or tomorrow).
4. I will go back to therapy if necessary.
5. I am assessing me and sometimes, I don't like what I find.
6. I will help my brothers settle the estate.
7. I have a new respect and patience for old people.
8. I will take better care of my mind and body.
9. My dog, Conor, mom and now, dad - I've had enough loss and death stress for a while.
10. I will always miss my mom (and dad).
11. I will move on, day by day, or minute by minute.
12. Life is good.
Thursday, August 21, 2003, 8:08p
Chris, I apologize if my crying in your office made you uncomfortable. I hope it didn't. My mind is sort of messed up. I have no regrets about choosing to be single. My parents were my confidants. I called home at least once a week - every Sunday. I called them with news and when I was faced with decisions. They shared my accomplishments, advised me, and comforted me. That is gone and I miss it. My dad is unable to answer the phone. My parents were always together - I never even saw them fight. Wonderful childhood. When my mother died, the parental unit was gone. I enjoyed my visits this spring with dad and even now - we have talked and bonded a lot. Anyway, I really appreciate your patience with me, your listening, and caring. I know this will all pass. Most moments I am doing great - but there are those waves of loss, Loneliness, finality, etc. that overtake me. I hope you're okay with me unloading heavy stuff on you. Thank you. I also apologize for all those times when I've been a jerk. I'm so sorry. I really am working on it. I'm learning how short and sweet life is.
Okay, I took a break. New topic: I need to get with you soon concerning (here come the bullets):
Fee forms and procedures - we used to get slides developed at ProPhoto. We would send them a PO for a couple hundred dollars and they would deduct each time we brought film in - lets discuss some options.
FIDER update - sorry I dropped the museum request on you today. There was a miscommunication or something somewhere but I will take the blame - we should have asked you sooner. If I can work with Bob and Joe on space, let me know. The museum would be ideal for the site visitors to review student work - wall space, near the design office, near the conference room for meetings, and right off the design gallery. We would like to start collecting student work next week and the site team leaves on Tuesday, October 21.
MFA proposals and update
Office space for Ruki and hopefully, new full time faculty in fall.
The drive tomorrow will be therapeutic. I'll check in with you next week. Thanks for all the time, energy, and support you provide. Please know that you are appreciated, loved, and respected. Jim
Monday, August 25, 2003, 9:39a
Chris, re email from Torrie: Monday, October 13 is fine with me. I would like Melinda to join us and she has penciled it into her calendar. If its okay with you, let me know & I'll respond to Torrie. Thanks.
PS: Sure enough, the weekend was a roller coaster - up (or at least sorta up and then down, way down. Last night was awful - I got very little sleep (awkward - when I'm sleep deprived, I cry even more easily). We think he's had another stroke as his speech is now almost incomprehensible, his concentration is poor, and he has no strength in his legs. My brothers are calling his doctor today. Letting go and saying goodbye to the house, its furniture, and contents is very hard. We have to be out of the house this Sunday night - the estate sale people take over for the sale the next weekend; we close on the house the following weekend; the bulldozer will probably come in soon afterwards.
As always - this will be moment by moment - I will need to rely on people here to be patient and understanding, as you always are.
Thank you. I may go to Dallas this Thursday instead of Friday - we'll see. Jim
Monday, September 15, 2003, 3:06p
Well, I didn't think it could get much worse but this past weekend was the worst. Dad is weaker, not eating, hallucinating constantly, and unable to answer our questions. It was very hard to leave him on Sunday afternoon. He told me he was proud of me. Also, childhood home was sold at noon today. I walked through it yesterday and saw it empty for the first and last time. We moved into it when I was 8 years old - numerous Christmases, birthdays, etc. I saw the corner where my desk was on which I did high school homework and built model cars. It was a tough weekend.
I'm about to go home now (around 3pm). I'm sorta bummed still. The heads up is that, unless I hear from my brothers that he is improving, I will go to Dallas after class on Wensday.
What I want most is to be with him and feed him and sit by his bed and hold his hand. But I also do not want to get behind in the large lecture classes Tuesday nite and Wensday afternoon. So, I will stay to cover those and then probably go. The heads up is, if I do go, I will miss the Financial Managers meeting on Friday and probably miss deadlines for Faculty Evaluations, and Phase 1 hiring. I hope we can work those out later.
As always, thank you for your patience and understanding. Jim
Thursday, September 18, 2003, 6:13p
I felt great on Thursday. I finally got to a point of being ready to let him go. I have been holding on, more for my sake. That is selfish. I need to let him go. This realization has been very liberating. I feel somewhat freed up. I will certainly be impacted when he does go, but I'm better prepared. I have no regrets - before I leave his bed to return to OK, I always tell him I love him and I thank him for his sacrifices and support. His active fruitful life is already over.
I had a good talk with the nurse Wensday night - his doctor has altered his medication - he is stabilizing and doing better (not good, but better). As of now, I am not planning to go to Dallas until next Thursday. I have lots to do here at home to get caught up and I need to grade 100 tests. I feel pretty good about this. I plan to call the nurse each evening this weekend to see how his day went. Of course, if he slips, I will get in the car and go.
Purpose of this email: although I will be in town, I need a day away from UCO, so, I'm not planning to be in at all on Friday nor attend the meeting Friday afternoon. Linda will be there. I often remind myself of your advice - that I need to take care of myself, also. I will try to do that. Thanks.
Monday, September 29,2003, 10:48a
My father was taken to ICU Sunday. His toes and fingers were blue. He is on a breathing machine. The doctors say he will live for about an hour after we take him off the machine. He and my mother were both explicit in their desire to not be kept alive by machine. My brothers are waiting on me to get to the hospital. I would like to be there when he takes his last breath. I am going to the airport now.
I plan to be gone all week. Any departmental business - please work with Linda and Larry.
Lon, can you give me an extension on the October 1 deadline for course changes - ours are only prerequisite changes - not too serious.
Larry, please check in with ClockTower periodically. They are working on a logo for the College of Business. Today, Monday, they have a meeting with Brennan Michaels at 1pm.
Linda/Larry, please tell my History class: no class on Wensday - Comm Auditorium, 120, 2pm.
Melinda, get with Linda/Laci/Larry for any FIDER needs.
I can be reached at brother Bill's cell: 214-555-1829
Tuesday, September 30, 2003, 8:43a
My father passed away Monday night at 11:13.
His three sons, daughters-in-law and grandkids were with him. We removed the breathing mask about 4pm and he held on for 7 more hours. We had some good talks with him - he even cracked a joke or two. He gradually became quieter and more still. He died very peacefully. I had some good alone time with him (good? I was so sad I couldn't cry hard enough but I am glad I had the opportunity to thank him one last time for his sacrifices, time, and love).
I didn't sleep last night and am sorta numb today. We will meet with the funeral home, the church, plan the service, and go remove his/our furniture and clothes from the nursing home. I will email/call Linda when we know the details on the Memorial Service.
I am glad I work with wonderful people and can spend this time with my family.
Thank you for your patience. Jim
Tuesday, September 30, 2003. 11:37a
From: Department Secretary
The memorial service for Jim's father, James W. Watson, will be at 10:00am on Saturday, October 4th, at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, 9800 Preston Road, Dallas, Texas. A reception following the memorial service will be at 11:00am in the church reception hall. Flowers are not allowed in the sanctuary, but will be arranged in the reception hall.
Tuesday, September 30, 2003, 10:31p
Linda/Lon, thank you for the kind words.
We got a lot done today. I took a sleeping pill at about 8pm. Hope it helps. It was very hard removing his things from the nursing home. That had been his home (and my weekend home) for the last 3 months. The nurses came in to hug us, some were crying, and to tell us how much they liked dad. I plan to take a floral arrangement by there on Friday for the nurses' desk. They were all really good with us and dad. We removed the last of dad's belongings - his glasses, shoes, clothes, wheelchair.
I am flying back to OK late Wensday afternoon. I don't plan to come to the office on Thursday. I am not yet strong enough and I'm pretty sure if someone mentions my dad, I'm likely to become a blubbering idiot. I may sneak in at nite to check email and get next week organized. I will drive back to Dallas with my funeral clothes and return to OK on Sunday afternoon. Chris, you do not need to feed the dogs on Thursday - I will do that - but please check on them Saturday. Thanks.
Dad's obituary will be in both Wensday and Thursday's The Dallas Morning News, Metropolitan section.
Lon, lets meet Monday or Tuesday about curriculum changes. Thanks.
Details for the Memorial Service:
Saturday, October 4, 2003
Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas
Inurnment (putting cremains in niche at church, family only): 10:30am
Memorial Service, Sanctuary: 11:00am
Reception, Jubilee Hall: 11:45-12:30
Thursday, October 2, 2003, 10:03p
I have my father's story on my website: http://www.jamesrobertwatson.com
I am mostly okay, with a few periodic bouts of grief (I've lost a lot in the last 10 months). I really feel fortunate to work with such good people. The week away and with the family was very therapeutic.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I will be back at work on Monday, the 6th.
Thursday, October 9,2003, 5:41p
Dear Dr. Watson
I have tried many times to write you a note about your father's death, but words always lost their ways. I thought talking might be easier for me but things are quite bad in Pakistan when it comes to communication.
Although I don't know much about your father, I find it difficult to accept his death. It is because of you. I made a connection with him through you, a connection of love and affection. Your love for me is the reflection of his love for you. I know how hard it is to remember your parents when they are not around. Just remember them.
I am sorry but I can not write more because I don't know what else to write. The only thing I can say is I love you and miss you very much. I told Maria about your dad and mom. She became very sad.
Please take care of yourself. I need you and many more Abdullah needs you. Please never stop teaching and never stop loving the way your parents loved you.
A brief bio of James W. Watson
From information by Steve Watson and Joe Josephson
James Webster Watson traveled around the world 66 times "from the Yakutsk to the Strait of Magellan; from the Outback to the Middle East to India; from the jungles of Brazil to the top of the world to the Sahara desert." He traveled in 76 countries, flew over 900 flights on 52 airlines, and traveled about 2 million miles - the equivalent of about 80 trips around the world or over 3 round trips to the moon.
Jim Watson was born July 6, 1917 in Madison, Wisconsin. His parents were Professor James W. Watson originally from La Crosse Wisconsin and Ethel Churchill Watson originally from Monroe Wisconsin. They were graduates of the University of Wisconsin, his grandmother graduated from UW in 1881, and his great great aunt was in the first class for women in 1864. Jim played a few sports in high school, but his real love was music. From 1935 to 1939 he played saxophone, clarinet, and oboe in the Madison Civic Symphony Orchestra, the University of Wisconsin Concert Band, and several dance orchestras. He considered a career in music but majored in Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, graduating in 1939. He wanted to go into the mining profession, but unfortunately nobody was interviewing that year. Shell Oil Company came to campus and he interviewed with them. About a week later, he got a job offer in Houston. He joined Shell Oil Company on July 10, 1939 and spent two years in training which took him to Hobbs New Mexico, Midland Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. He then became a subsurface geologist for Shell throughout southern Louisiana.
In Houma, Louisiana on May 16, 1942, Jim married Lorraine Remmel who lived at the same address, but two streets over. They had known each other since childhood, and were high school and college sweethearts. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in May, 2002, 8 months before Lorraine's death on December 19, 2002 (link). He and mother really enjoyed raising their three sons, traveling, playing bridge, and musical theater. They had season tickets to the Dallas Summer Musicals since 1952. They attended 274 musicals plus 80 other musicals in New York City, Moscow, Dublin, London, Fort Worth, Houston, Garland, and Eureka Springs.
Jim and Lorraine had their first child, William Remmel in March of 1945. They lived in the bayous of Louisiana and had to go to Orange, Texas for Bill's delivery. The next son, Stephen Bruce, was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on August 26, 1947. The third son, James Robert was born on July 27, 1950, in New Orleans. All three sons were born in cities on US Highway 90 along the Gulf coast.
In December of 1951, Jim got a call from a friend who had recently joined DeGolyer and McNaughton in Dallas, the premier petroleum consultant firm in the world. "They pioneered the petroleum consulting business. They were the first to convince bankers that loans could be successfully made based on the oil reserves and potential of oil fields." Clients included Mobil Oil, Getty Oil, Amoco, and individuals who bought or inherited oil properties. Watson said, "Its our job, as a third party, to evaluate the oil potential of a given property. D&M is not only the largest in the world, but also the most respected." He always said it took him all of 15 seconds to respond to that call with, "Yes, I'll be there." So January 1, 1952, he joined D&M and moved to Dallas. He knew it was going to be a great job, but he wasn't quite sure what lay ahead. Two weeks later, he was asked to go to Alaska where he was initiated into the Top of the World Club and had to eat muktuk (whale blubber), which he didn't like at all. Following Alaska, he went to Saudi Arabia. He came back and told mother, "I think I am going to have an interesting and exciting career ahead of me - I think this thing's gonna take me all over." That's exactly what his job in the International Division of D&M did. That first year, he traveled 57,000 miles and took 44 flights. His work took him to all parts of the world; during his career, he went to Algeria 35 times, Spain over 30 times, Russia 5 times, every single country in South America except the Guineas, and every country in Europe. He dined with Heads of States, Government Officials, Sheiks, and became a trusted friend to John Paul Getty, who was then the world's richest man.
Jim and Lorraine always liked South America, especially Argentina. He had projects that took him all through Brazil and into the Amazon jungle. He consulted on the first wildcatter well in Uruguay. In Mexico, he had a long-term relationship with PEMEX, the national oil company. But his favorite country was Austria. "Where else can you get into a taxi and listen to classical music?" He loved the food, the hospitality and the music throughout Austria, especially Vienna, which was his favorite city. One of his proudest accomplishments concerned an oil field that was jointly owned by Czechoslovakia and Austria. They had a dispute over how much each country could drill. They hired Jim Watson to help negotiate and settle the disagreement. He recommended a solution that both governments accepted. In Prague Czechoslovakia, 1968, he and mother woke up one morning and looked out their window to see the Russian tanks come in as they invaded the city. They couldn't get out of there for a few days. His most exciting trip was three weeks at the Yakutsk River in Siberia. He was always fascinated by the people of Russia in the 1960s and 70s. He saw women with backbreaking jobs and very few luxury items. They had no TVs, cars, nor phones and people would drink Vodka at night to drown their sorrows. He did enjoy the culture of Russia. He saw many plays, musicals, and the ballet, and he loved Red Square, and the "step" in the changing of the guard.
Jim Watson retired from D&M as Senior Vice President, International Division, in 1982. In 1983 he established Watson Energy Consultants, Inc. which continued to function until his death. He stayed active with bridge, writing, church activities, and travel. He and mother went on many ocean cruises. They'd select a cruise based upon cities he hadn't been to. Some of the cities that they visited were Helsinki, Leningrad, Nanjing, Karachi, Tbilisi, Nairobi, Beijing, Islamabad, five cities in central Africa, Athens, Tel Aviv - they filled out the globe with anyplace that he had not gone on his business travels.
He was active in Boy Scouts and the PTA. At Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church he served as Elder, sang in the choir for 20 years, was active in the Emeritus Group, led the Early Birds breakfast group since 1993, and was involved in the radio broadcasts from PHPC since 1990. He was an active member of the Dallas Petroleum Club, SIPES, Dallas Geological Society, Petroleum Engineers Club, NOMADS, Dutch Treat Wildcatters and North Dallas Golden K Kiwanis Club where he served as President 1996-1997. He was also a long time member of The American Association of Petroleum Geologists, American Petroleum Institute, and the Engineers Club of Dallas. He was an Associate Fellow of the Institute of Petroleum in England.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Lorraine, who passed away in December, 2002, and by brothers Charles, Robert, and Richard. He is survived by sons Bill and his wife Debbie of Garland; Steve and his wife Sandy of Dallas and Professor Jim Watson of Edmond, Oklahoma; grandchildren Allison, Eric, Jimmy and Tracy; and sisters-in-law June Watson of Elm Grove, Wisconsin, and Gladys Watson of San Juan Capistrano, California.
Jim Watson and J Paul Getty (once the richest person in the world)
Written by Steve Watson, edited by Jim Watson; 2018
After Jean Paul Getty obtained a land deal with Saudi Arabia's King Saud, oil was discovered - in 1953 Getty became a billionaire. Getty and the Aminoil company hired DeGolyer and MacNaughton, a Petroleum Consulting firm in Dallas, to resolve a disagreement. D&M gave the job to Jim Watson. After trips to San Francisco and New York City to talk to Aminoil reps and to Los Angeles to talk to Getty reps. Watson arranged a meeting with Getty. Problem resolved. Later, Watson was in Vienna doing some work for the Austrian government. When he finished, he worked up a proposal for Getty whereby Watson would serve as Getty's advisor to his dealings in Saudi Arabia. On the way back to Dallas, Watson met with Getty at the Ritz Hotel in London and convinced him that he could benefit from an association with D&M. Getty agreed, the beginning of a relationship which lasted about 20 years. Watson had a standing invitation to stay at Getty's homes, Sutton Place outside London, Rome, and Paris whenever he was in Europe, which Watson did often.
• Ancestor James Getty founded Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1785. In August 1903, Getty's father George was sent to Bartlesville, Oklahoma to settle a small claim for $2,500 which he was able to do the day after he arrived. The few hours he spent in Bartlesville were enough to whet his appetite for the oil business, and soon he acquired a lease from the Osage Nation and struck oil on his first well. It wasn't long before he had several wells and had formed the Minnehoma Oil Company. He sold 100 shares of the company to son Getty for $5. The family moved to Beverly Hills, California, when Getty was 14. At 21, in 1914, at the urging of his father, Getty went to Tulsa to look for leases as a wildcatter - now he was in the oil business. When he was 24, Getty completed his first well, and with his father, formed the Getty Oil Company.
• Getty was gentle, gracious, charming, warm, and he had a courtly attitude toward women. He had a quick sense of humor, laughing and even giggling. When he talked, he held your attention and when you talked, he was the best audience. He was a lover of art and antiques - Getty preferred that people think of him as an art collector, not a businessman. He was a thoughtful, understanding host, considerate of his guests comfort. When guests left, he would be sad of their leaving and would be at the door waving good-bye.
• He was a light drinker - his favorite drink was 5 or 6 drops of rum in the bottom of a glass, which was then filled with Coca Cola. Watson enjoyed watching Bullimore, Getty's butler, bring drinks to the two of them on a tray with a glass of ice, a Coke can, and an eye dropper for putting in drops of rum, all very meticulously.
• He was afraid of flying - he didn't like to travel. He never returned to the US after moving to Europe in 1951.
• A workaholic - one morning Watson had a 7:00a flight out of London, so at 3a, Getty wanted to understand some charts, so they spread them all over the floor and were on their hands and knees looking at these charts at 3am!
• He never forgot what you told him and he demanded perfection. He had an acute attention to detail. He did not delegate authority which hurt him in the end by not having a family member to take over the businesses.
• Getty was a good friend to those whom he trusted, Watson being one of them. Getty would sometimes call D&M looking for Watson and when Watson wasn't there, someone at D&M would take the call, “I can help you, Mr. Getty." His reply was, “No, I only talk to Jim Watson," and he would hang up the phone.
• Sutton Place was built between 1521 and 1530 by Earl Richard Weston, a favorite of Henry VIII, and was said to be the first manor house built in England without fortifications. Visitors: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Queen Victoria. The Virgin Queen received her courtiers in the Great Hall in Sutton Place. Getty bought the house from the Duke of Sutherland in 1961 and Getty established his permanent office there. The mansion stands on 805 acres of beautiful English countryside. 72 rooms, a staff of 30. Bullimore - head of the staff (once worked for the Henry Fords). Watson usually stayed in the Little Oak Room. A spring morning with the windows open and the sounds of birds and church bells coming in. You are lying under the quilt and after a knock at the door, Bullimore, the butler, comes in with a complete hot breakfast and the London Times and a good cup of coffee. Watson felt that lying there partaking of all this was real luxury.
• Many times for dinner, Getty would get his private chef and would go out on one of his oil tankers for an elaborate dinner, usually filet mignon. He invited Watson who often joined him for dinner on his oil tankers. It was Getty's way to spend time with some of the people he enjoyed.
• Getty loved Cheerios, but could never get them in England. Watson's wife (my mother) would send him a box of Cheerios for Christmas, and whenever she traveled with Watson and stayed at Sutton Place, she took a box of Cheerios to him.
• At a dinner in Sutton Place, Watson's wife fed Getty's dog with food from the table.
• Getty was often asked why he didn't give away more money, as did John D Rockefeller. Getty's reply was that he did not believe in giving money away, as that would ruin a man's character. Getty's philosophy was that to give a man a job was a much better thing to do than giving him money. He accomplished this since the many companies he ran employed lots of people.
• Getty was fluent in English, German, French, and Italian. He could get along in Spanish, Arabic, Russian, and Greek. He could read Latin and ancient Greek. He was well read.
• A pay phone was installed in the coat room at Sutton Place. This resulted from visitors or even friends calling back to the United States when they reached Sutton Place. Getty of course paid the phone bill. He said he put in the pay phone “for their convenience."
• Once in Paris - Watson stayed at Getty's apartment with Getty and his last ex-wife. The three of them were going out to dinner that night and she had dressed up nicely - her hair was just immaculate; every hair was perfectly placed. There was a light rain. Getty was too cheap to take a taxi; the restaurant was only a couple of blocks away, “Come on, we're gonna walk." So, they walked in the rain, and his ex-wife was just furious. They had to put up with her ire during the whole dinner.
• Until 1957, Getty enjoyed relative obscurity. Fortune Magazine changed all of that when for the first time they ran an article on the world's richest people and Getty was number 1, richer than Rockefeller.
• At Getty's request, Watson went into London with him one day to join Hugh Hefner and his guests for a party honoring Hefner and Getty who was an associate editor of Playboy Magazine. Watson sat next to Ringo Starr and across the table from Stirling Moss the famed English race-car driver. Hefner picked up the check for this one. There were pictures of the party in Time and Town & Country magazines. This was in the mid-1960's when Watson's son Jim was playing the drums in a band and another son Bill was into car racing. Watson got Ringo Starr to give an autograph fror Jim and an autograph of Stirling Moss for Bill.
When Getty's health was failing, Watson visited Getty at Sutton Place. 12 days later, June 6 1976, Jean Paul Getty died. Watson thought that he was probably one of the last people to see him alive.
Getty bought a ranch in Malibu in 1943, and later added a wing just for his art work. The first public Getty Museum was opened in the Malibu house in 1953, after Getty moved to Europe. In January 1974, Getty opened a new museum in a re-creation of the Villa at Herculaneum in Pacific Palisades, California. $1.2 billion of Getty's estate went to the Getty Museum in LA, making it the richest museum in the world.
“In times of rapid change, experience can become your worst enemy." - J Paul Getty
Dad and Islam
My father, Jim Watson, was a petroleum consultant who worked for many years at DeGolyer and MacNaughton in Dallas. He traveled all over the world and made many trips to the Middle East. Below are excerpts from a presentation he made about Islam in Dallas, probably sometime in the 1990s.
A good Muslim must pray at 5 prescribed times a day and before each period he must carry out certain ceremonies of purification and ablution. Every mosque has facilities for washing, however, the worshiper often is in the desert or away from a mosque, in which case, sand or dust may be used. After washing, the worshiper stands straight and faces toward Mecca then, prostrating himself, repeats certain words or passages from the Koran. The 5 times are at early dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night. Friday noon is the only prescribed congregational prayer. The mosque itself has no pews and is unadorned with pictures. In fact, in the Arab world, you do not see photos or pictures of living things. All adornments are merely graphic designs. During the early years of Aramco's (Arabian American Oil Company) operations in Saudi Arabia, the drillers had a hard time keeping their rigs operating smoothly since the roughnecks working on the rig floor would take off for the desert to pray when the spirit moved them. Since the spirit moved the men individually and at different times, the driller always had a problem with a short-handed crew. Finally, Aramco established specific times for prayer and the driller would shut the rig down and everyone would go and pray at the same time.
During Ramadan, the Muslim refrains from eating, drinking, or smoking from dawn to sunset. I have often been in Arab countries during Ramadan and it was always hard to get things done. For one thing, in deference to their custom you do not eat or drink in the presence of one who is fasting. The ordinary nicety of taking your client out to lunch doesn't work here. Also, you find that you don't get much accomplished late in the day when they are irritable. It is customary for a Muslim to be seated at the table ready to eat at sunset. On occasions, I would be out in the oilfields of Kuwait in the afternoon and head back to Kuwait City about dark. On those occasions the taxi driver would exceed the speed limit so as to get home by dinner time and he would invariably pull up to his front door and tear off to dinner, leaving you to find your way to your destination.
It is the aim of Islam to ultimately bring the whole world into Islam. These fanatics are the ones we worry about since they firmly believe that any violent act against the infidel insures their favorable reception into the hereafter where they can hob-nob with the angels.
There is relatively little crime in Saudi Arabia, which is a little more strict than other Muslim countries. Although not quite as tough as in older days, a thief gets his hand chopped off, an adulterer is put in a sack and thrown off the tallest building, and murderers are summarily executed. This sounds extreme but it gets the job done. This probably originated in days when there wasn't an elaborate judicial system in the country and some pretty basic rules of conduct were established.
The Arabic language is fairly simple but depends on various sounds. A single word can have several meanings depending on how the word is pronounced. Some meanings are quite different. Thus, an Arab from Morocco or Algeria has a hard time communicating with a Saudi or Omani because of local accents or inflections. I remember one night in Kuwait City I had the pleasure of playing an evening of bridge with Farida, the ex-wife of King Farouk. She turned out to be a good bridge player and conversationalist. At one point, she interrupted the game when she had to meet with some sheiks wives. She told us not to leave because she was not looking forward to this meeting and would be right back. Sure enough, when she returned she said she couldn't understand most of what they were saying.
The Palestinian difficulties in Israel have been going on since the formation of Israel in 1947 and will probably continue despite the efforts of Israeli and Palestinian leaders to reach some satisfactory solution. This in, in effect, a holy war and there is never a solution to a holy war. You just don't convince one or the other party to give in and accept the beliefs of the other. At best, all that can be accomplished is for the two sides to agree to live in peace and accept the others for what they are. The Palestinians have a chip on their shoulder and react violently to any provocation. Even with support from other Arab countries (which they cannot get) they are no match for the armed strength and the organization of the Israelis. Thus, they are in a no-win situation. Terrorism is their only outlet which is an attempt to show the world how they are being mistreated, On the other hand, they feel they have a just cause. Palestine was established as a mandated territory under British rule at the end of World War I. At the end of WWII, in a similar fashion, Israel was created out of what had been Palestine. It isn't surprising that they are sore about the whole deal. The Palestinians, like other Arabs, are not used to an organized form of government and look to any individual leader who is strong, whether or not he knows anything about how to run a government or anything else. In the past, it was common for a brother to kill a brother to gain control over a tribe or a government.
This reminds me of the old fable about the scorpion and the turtle. It seems that the scorpion wanted the turtle to carry him across the Nile River, but the turtle said, "Nothing doing, when we get out on the river you will sting me." The scorpion said, "No way. If I sting you, you will die, but I will drown. I promise I won't sting you." So off they went and, sure enough, when they were out in the middle of the river, the scorpion stung the turtle. As they were both dying, the turtle said, "How could you do this when it meant you would also die?" The scorpion replied, "I couldn't help myself; its the way of life here in the Middle East."
Link to Mom's story
Link to Bill's story
Thoughts on grieving