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 Willie Saunders Watkins III

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Willie Saunders Watkins III

Birth
Richmond City, Virginia, USA
Death
23 Jan 2009 (aged 67)
Richmond City, Virginia, USA
Burial
Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA
Plot
Section 24
Memorial ID
33169734 View Source

President and Manager of W.S. Watkins and Son Funeral Home entered eternal rest on January 23, 2009.
Mortician W.S. Watkins III dies






By Ellen Robertson

Published: January 25, 2009

Willie Saunders Watkins III had a bachelor's and a master's degree in biology from Howard University.

Many doctors took courses from him when he taught at Howard and as an associate professor in the Clark Atlanta University Center, serving Spelman, Morehead and Morris Brown colleges.

But as the son and grandson of men who founded and owned W.S. Watkins & Son Funeral Home in Richmond, Bill Watkins knew that he would be drawn back to the family business his grandfather founded. His father and mother someday would need his help, and the business eventually would be his.

He completed his mortuary training at John Tyler Community College "so he could carry on the legacy," said his wife of 39 years, Elizabeth Dianne Nelson Watkins, and later taught on the school's adjunct faculty.

Mr. Watkins, president, manager and co-owner with his sister of W.S. Watkins & Son Funeral Home in Richmond, died Friday at a Henrico County rehabilitation and nursing center after a three-month illness. He was 67.

A funeral will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 216 W. Leigh St., where he had served on the board of trustees, as moderator and longtime tenor and sometimes soloist in the Sanctuary, Men's and Mass choirs. Burial will be in Riverview Cemetery.

Mr. Watkins, a former president of the Virginia Morticians Association, also served as chairman of the Education Commission of the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, a role that enabled him to work with funeral directors nationwide and in the Bahamas.

As chairman, he served as a consultant at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helping develop guidelines for preventing the transmission of AIDS in the workplace and teaching funeral directors how to protect themselves. He also worked with the Environmental Protection Agency's study on the effects of formaldehyde in funeral homes.

Always interested in education, he attended American University and the Medical College of Virginia, where he was certified in the history and philosophy of science and mathematics and in postmortem eye eneucleation, the operation enabling the donation of eyes of deceased people.

Mr. Watkins wrote for textbooks, lab manuals to help train funeral directors in the latest scientific methods, science and trade journals and periodicals. He edited the Virginia Mortician Association Bulletin for seven years.

"He would talk with middle and high school students about the funeral business as a career," his wife said, and mentored many young funeral directors through an apprenticeship at his funeral home.

A well-read man who was the valedictorian of the Class of 1958 at Maggie Walker High School, he taught a class on the purpose of death and dying "to help distraught people heal. It was such a comfort to the families, this spirituality, a belief system in a higher being," his wife said.

"He was very sensitive to different people's cultures and beliefs, to religions of various people. He had a world religion view, that each person's religion could be respected, and he could provide a service that complemented the belief, whether you were Buddhist or Christian [or whatever]."

A man with an infectious laugh and razor-sharp wit, he loved spectator sports, was a skilled ballroom dancer and was devoted to helping in his community.

"He was a man of deep convictions and lived his convictions," his wife said. During the civil-rights era, he was among students from Howard University who went south in buses and were arrested in attempts to derail segregation.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, Willie S. Watkins IV of Henrico; two daughters, Karen Watkins-Westebbe and Lauren Watkins, both of Richmond; a sister, Valorie Patrice Watkins of Henrico; and a grandson.


January 29, 2009 The Richmond Times Dispatch


WATKINS, Mr. Willie Saunders III, entered eternal rest on Friday, January 23, 2009. A third generation owner of W.S. Watkins and Son Funeral Home, Mr. Watkins was a native of Richmond, Virginia. He was born March 24, 1941 to the late Thelma Anderson Watkins and Willie S. Watkins Jr. He graduated from Maggie L. Walker High School as valedictorian in the class of 1958. Some of the professional organizations to which he belonged include the National Business League, Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Richmond Funeral Directors Association, Virginia Morticians Association, National Funeral Directors Association, and Pi Sigma Eta Mortuary Fraternity. These activities have not precluded his involvement in community and civic activities with either memberships or board affiliations with the Better Business Bureau, Richmond Teachers Federal Credit Union, Richmond Community Senior Center and Adult Day Care Center. He was a member of Masonic Lodge #65, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the Astoria Beneficial Club. Mr. Watkins, known in some circles as "Billy," enjoyed people, loved spectator sports, had a great sense of humor, and was a skilled ballroom dancer. He leaves to cherish his memory his wife of 39 years, E. Dianne Nelson Watkins; and their three children, Willie S. Watkins IV (and his son Connor R. Watkins), Karen Watkins-Westebee (Bruce) and Lauren D. Watkins; and his sister, Valorie Patrice Watkins, Esq.; his great-aunt, Mrs. Nancy A. Bromley; and cousins, Joyce Clay Dennis, Margaret Clay Crews, Linda Anderson Taylor (Geroy), Robena Anderson Pope (Stuart), Sandra Anderson Fox (Charles) and Robert Anderson (Cheryl); and a host of other relatives and many dear friends. His remains rest at the W.S. Watkins & Son Funeral Home, 2700 North Ave. The family will receive friends at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 216 W. Leigh Street, on Friday, January 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. An Omega Memorial Service will commence at 7 p.m. Funeral services will be conducted at Ebenezer Baptist at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 31, 2009. Rev. Dr. Levy M. Arwmood Jr. officiating. Interment Riverview Cemetery.

President and Manager of W.S. Watkins and Son Funeral Home entered eternal rest on January 23, 2009.
Mortician W.S. Watkins III dies






By Ellen Robertson

Published: January 25, 2009

Willie Saunders Watkins III had a bachelor's and a master's degree in biology from Howard University.

Many doctors took courses from him when he taught at Howard and as an associate professor in the Clark Atlanta University Center, serving Spelman, Morehead and Morris Brown colleges.

But as the son and grandson of men who founded and owned W.S. Watkins & Son Funeral Home in Richmond, Bill Watkins knew that he would be drawn back to the family business his grandfather founded. His father and mother someday would need his help, and the business eventually would be his.

He completed his mortuary training at John Tyler Community College "so he could carry on the legacy," said his wife of 39 years, Elizabeth Dianne Nelson Watkins, and later taught on the school's adjunct faculty.

Mr. Watkins, president, manager and co-owner with his sister of W.S. Watkins & Son Funeral Home in Richmond, died Friday at a Henrico County rehabilitation and nursing center after a three-month illness. He was 67.

A funeral will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 216 W. Leigh St., where he had served on the board of trustees, as moderator and longtime tenor and sometimes soloist in the Sanctuary, Men's and Mass choirs. Burial will be in Riverview Cemetery.

Mr. Watkins, a former president of the Virginia Morticians Association, also served as chairman of the Education Commission of the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, a role that enabled him to work with funeral directors nationwide and in the Bahamas.

As chairman, he served as a consultant at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helping develop guidelines for preventing the transmission of AIDS in the workplace and teaching funeral directors how to protect themselves. He also worked with the Environmental Protection Agency's study on the effects of formaldehyde in funeral homes.

Always interested in education, he attended American University and the Medical College of Virginia, where he was certified in the history and philosophy of science and mathematics and in postmortem eye eneucleation, the operation enabling the donation of eyes of deceased people.

Mr. Watkins wrote for textbooks, lab manuals to help train funeral directors in the latest scientific methods, science and trade journals and periodicals. He edited the Virginia Mortician Association Bulletin for seven years.

"He would talk with middle and high school students about the funeral business as a career," his wife said, and mentored many young funeral directors through an apprenticeship at his funeral home.

A well-read man who was the valedictorian of the Class of 1958 at Maggie Walker High School, he taught a class on the purpose of death and dying "to help distraught people heal. It was such a comfort to the families, this spirituality, a belief system in a higher being," his wife said.

"He was very sensitive to different people's cultures and beliefs, to religions of various people. He had a world religion view, that each person's religion could be respected, and he could provide a service that complemented the belief, whether you were Buddhist or Christian [or whatever]."

A man with an infectious laugh and razor-sharp wit, he loved spectator sports, was a skilled ballroom dancer and was devoted to helping in his community.

"He was a man of deep convictions and lived his convictions," his wife said. During the civil-rights era, he was among students from Howard University who went south in buses and were arrested in attempts to derail segregation.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, Willie S. Watkins IV of Henrico; two daughters, Karen Watkins-Westebbe and Lauren Watkins, both of Richmond; a sister, Valorie Patrice Watkins of Henrico; and a grandson.


January 29, 2009 The Richmond Times Dispatch


WATKINS, Mr. Willie Saunders III, entered eternal rest on Friday, January 23, 2009. A third generation owner of W.S. Watkins and Son Funeral Home, Mr. Watkins was a native of Richmond, Virginia. He was born March 24, 1941 to the late Thelma Anderson Watkins and Willie S. Watkins Jr. He graduated from Maggie L. Walker High School as valedictorian in the class of 1958. Some of the professional organizations to which he belonged include the National Business League, Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Richmond Funeral Directors Association, Virginia Morticians Association, National Funeral Directors Association, and Pi Sigma Eta Mortuary Fraternity. These activities have not precluded his involvement in community and civic activities with either memberships or board affiliations with the Better Business Bureau, Richmond Teachers Federal Credit Union, Richmond Community Senior Center and Adult Day Care Center. He was a member of Masonic Lodge #65, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the Astoria Beneficial Club. Mr. Watkins, known in some circles as "Billy," enjoyed people, loved spectator sports, had a great sense of humor, and was a skilled ballroom dancer. He leaves to cherish his memory his wife of 39 years, E. Dianne Nelson Watkins; and their three children, Willie S. Watkins IV (and his son Connor R. Watkins), Karen Watkins-Westebee (Bruce) and Lauren D. Watkins; and his sister, Valorie Patrice Watkins, Esq.; his great-aunt, Mrs. Nancy A. Bromley; and cousins, Joyce Clay Dennis, Margaret Clay Crews, Linda Anderson Taylor (Geroy), Robena Anderson Pope (Stuart), Sandra Anderson Fox (Charles) and Robert Anderson (Cheryl); and a host of other relatives and many dear friends. His remains rest at the W.S. Watkins & Son Funeral Home, 2700 North Ave. The family will receive friends at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 216 W. Leigh Street, on Friday, January 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. An Omega Memorial Service will commence at 7 p.m. Funeral services will be conducted at Ebenezer Baptist at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 31, 2009. Rev. Dr. Levy M. Arwmood Jr. officiating. Interment Riverview Cemetery.

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