Cover photo for William Richard Watson's Obituary
William Richard Watson Profile Photo
1935 Bill Watson 2023

William Richard Watson

February 18, 1935 — July 3, 2023

Naples, New York


William Richard (Bill) Watson passed away July 3, 2023 at the age of 88. He was born on February 18, 1935 in the Mississippi Delta town of Hughes, Arkansas, where he spent most of his childhood. At the age of 13 he moved to Detroit, Michigan and just a few years later joined the Marine Corp. He served in Kyoto, Japan and in Korea where he learned his trade as an explosives expert.

Bill returned to the US in the late 1950's and lived in Louisiana and Florida and in 1962 took a job as a room service waiter at White Face Inn in Lake Placid, New York. As fate would have it, a beauty named Mary Ellen List was working in the dining room that same summer. A romance blossomed and the two married in Rochester, New York on October 2, 1965. 15 months later, on December 21, 1966 they welcomed their first child, Kelly Lakin Watson. 20 months after that, Dorothy Robin Watson arrived on August 27, 1968. The family was complete in their Catskill Mountain home with the two children, a german shepherd named Heike and a white cat named Snowball.

In 1978 the family moved to Italy Valley, New York where Bill and Mary Ellen remained for the better part of 40 years. During those years Bill worked in construction, blasting, drilling and truck driving. He and Mary Ellen enjoyed the acreage around their home in Italy Valley tending apple orchards, planting gardens and trees and at one time cared for several chickens, rabbits, cats, dogs and a horse. They also enjoyed the fellowship of the local congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses along with family and friends near and far.

By the late 2000's Bill had retired and enjoyed taking care of wild birds and using his riding lawnmower to tend the fields and the Valley property. He and Mary Ellen enjoyed camping trips with friends and visiting grandchildren in Philadelphia.

Bill died on July 3, 2023 in his home in Italy Valley. He is survived by his wife Mary Ellen Watson, daughter Kelly Biesecker, daughter Robin Hamilton, son in law Peter Hamilton and grandchildren Sophie Biesecker and Frederick (Trip) Biesecker as well as his brother James (Bud) Rook, sister-in-law Phyllis Rook, nephew and niece TJ and Micki Rook and their daughter Kirsten Rook along with her children. He will be missed and his memory will live on in the hearts of the people who love him.

An INVITATION ONLY celebration of Bill's life will be held on Sunday April 14, 2024 at Seasons on Keuka Lake in Penn Yan, New York from 1:00PM until 5:00PM.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of William Richard Watson, please visit our flower store.

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Season's on Keuka Lake at Hampton Inn Penn Yan

110 Mace St, Penn Yan, NY 14527

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