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WATTS - In Memoriam
|James Thomas Watts|
James Thomas WattsDecember 19, 1942-January 31, 2012
James Thomas Watts, beloved husband and father, was born in Medina, Tennessee, the eldest of two sons of Willie James and Mamie Lee Brooks Watts.
Jim received his B.S. degree from the University of Texas at Austin using a four-year Navy scholarship and a job selling sporting equipment, tools and hardware, graduating with a major in psychology and a dual minor in physics and mathematics.
He began his active duty in the U.S. Navy as an ensign, Supply Corps, in September 1965. One of his duty stations was London, England, where he met his future wife, Marcia Joy Mackie of Seattle, Washington. After their marriage in London on March 9, 1968, he saw duty in Cleveland, Ohio and Viet Nam, where he served as supply officer on USS Sphinx repair ship in the Mekong Delta. He said the men would eat hamburgers three times a day if he allowed it on the menu.
After six years of active duty, Jim returned to civilian life and joined the Naval Reserve. Always with an inquiring mind and eager for knowledge, Jim returned to campus and in 1972 earned his MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, ranked 28 in a class of 412, and became a consultant with the management consulting firm of Cresap, McCormick and Paget in New York City, assisting clients with divestiture, compensation, location analysis, and reorganization.
He commuted from Darien, Connecticut, where he and Marcy rented the "gardener's cottage" on a local estate, raised a garden and where daughter Jessica was born. A Texan at heart, Jim then returned to "God's Country," earned a Texas real estate brokers license and joined a friend in his real estate business in Dallas.
In 1974, Jim relocated his home and office to Mesquite, Texas, having formed Goggans & Watts Building Cos., Inc. (subsequently Texkor, Inc.) specializing in custom-built homes and commercial projects. Son Brooks came along in 1979.
During 11 years in Mesquite, Jim's interests expanded to include ownership in a restaurant, title insurance, commercial and residential rental properties, appraisal services, and banking (as a cofounder and director of Mesquite National Bank). He was a Registered Professional Builder, and his affiliations included Society of Real Estate Appraisers; National Association of Home Builders; Home & Apartment Builders Association of Metropolitan Dallas; Texas Association of Builders; President, Mesquite Home & Apartment Builders Association; Sales & Marketing Council, National Association of Home Builders; President, Mesquite Branch American Cancer Society; President Mesquite Rotary Club; Chairman of the Board, Mesquite Community Hospital; Vice Chairman, Mesquite Cable Advisory Board.
Jim remained in the Naval Reserve for 16 years and served as president, SW Chapter, Naval Supply Corps Association. During his Navy career, Jim served on three ships and numerous shore locations. He was commanding officer of two Naval Reserve units, the last of which consisted of 106 officers and enlisted personnel. His military decorations included Navy Unit Commendation, Vietnam Service Medal, National Defense Medal, Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross), Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, and the Combat Action Ribbon. In 1985, at the rank of captain, he culminated his Navy career by returning to active duty to attend the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, earning a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies.
While in Newport, Jim also earned his master's in International Relations from Salve Regina College. He completed his formal education with a return to the University of Pennsylvania, obtaining a law degree in 199l. At the law school, he was an instructor in legal research and writing and editor-in-chief of the Penn Law School Year Book. At 50, he was the oldest in his class.
While in Philadelphia, Jim served in Volunteers for the Indigent Legal Program and Old City Civic Association.
Jim returned to Texas, passed the bar and put out his shingle in Mesquite. Along with a general practice, he assisted clients through consumer bankruptcy. Desiring to help his older clients and neighbors, he began specializing in estate, business and Medicaid planning as Watts Law Firm and in partnership as Ford & Watts. His motto was "Providing Peace of Mind." He gave lots of advice, much of it free, and really enjoyed helping people solve their problems and plan for the future.
He was a member of the American Bar Association, Probate & Estate Planning Division; Texas Bar Association; Past President Mesquite Bar Association; Federal Bar Association; The Association of Trial Lawyers of America; National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys; College of the State Bar of Texas; the Wealth Counsel; National Association of Elder Law Attorneys; and Texas Association of Elder Law Attorneys.
Jim had many friends in the community and gave freely of his time to various endeavors. He was or had been director, Mesquite Economic Development Foundation Inc.; vice chairman of the Board, Mesquite Chamber of Commerce; Advisory Board, Child Guidance Clinic of Mesquite; director, Mesquite Symphony Orchestra Association; director, Mesquite Arts Council; director, First State Bank of Mesquite; director, Mesquite Sunrise Rotary Club; Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary International; and served on the Mesquite Public Art Committee.
He especially enjoyed his Rotary friendships, valued his good and faithful friends, conscientiously attended to his board duties, committee memberships, and was involved in the arts. For several years he held memberships in Dallas Theater Center, Texas Ballet Theater, and Theatre 3.
Jim really enjoyed traveling. He and Marcy visited all seven continents and relaxed on 38 cruises. His goal was to visit 100 countries and all the courthouses in the state of Texas. He was an avid follower of world affairs and enjoyed playing golf. Jim joked that he attended school in every decade that he lived except the last one. He was a tireless reader, especially any books that expanded his knowledge or promised self-improvement. He almost always knew the answer no matter the question.
Jim loved his family and was very proud of his children. To them he was a tower of wisdom, knowledge, support, quiet determination, thoughtfulness and romantic gestures. For their 25th anniversary, he told Marcy to pack one suitcase for cold weather and one for warm weather. She learned at the jetway that they were returning to London to mark the event.
His shoes are unfillable and he is missed every day. All who knew him are grateful that he was in their lives, albeit only through his 69th year.
He is survived by Marcy, his wife of 43 years; his children Jessica and Brooks; and remembered by nieces, aunts, cousins, and friends.
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