December 18, 2013 Edition

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Coach Watson made
Hoxie, WR better

John Bland
Publisher

Coach Bobby C. Watson coached, taught and encouraged a generation or two of Hoxie and Walnut Ridge youth.

Besides restarting the football program in 1969 and the girls basketball program at Hoxie School, I remember him coaching a top-notch girls track team at HHS. Most of his former players continued to feel a strong loyalty and connection to Coach Watson years after he coached them.

Angie Jones Skimahorn of our staff is just one of many who fondly recalled having Coach Watson at the helm of her girls basketball team. A couple of years ago, some of his former players organized a party in his honor. The event gave many former players, parents and community members an opportunity to thank Coach Watson for his positive influence.

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Coach Watson impacted a generation of boys as he coached and managed the Walnut Ridge Little League Program for many years. This program brought together boys from both the Hoxie and Walnut Ridge schools. Through this shared experience, these boys became friends. As another person said, Coach Watson probably did more than any one person to unite the youth in our twin cities. Without the program, the youth might not have gotten to know one another.

Coach Watson and his family made Stewart Park their summer home, with his wife, Mary Ann, and children working in the concession stand and in other ways. Their daughter, Judy, oversaw the girls softball program in a fashion similar to her father. She has also followed in his footsteps with a successful career in coaching.

Coach Watson taught boys the basics of baseball during daytime practices and fathers coached their sons' teams in the evening games with Coach Watson announcing games. With meticulous care and unmatched dependability, Coach Watson reported on each Little League game for The TD. He never failed to mention any noteworthy achievement or performance by one of his players.

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After retiring, Coach Watson wrote football and basketball stories for The TD for a number of years. He thoroughly reported on the Hoxie and Walnut Ridge teams with the same accuracy and diligence that he did for Little League.

Even though I wasn't an athlete, he encouraged and "coached" me. He did give me a golfing lesson or two, and despite my lack of ability, he was kind, patient and encouraging. One of the most revealing aspects of Coach Watson's character for me was that he treated me like one of his players and showed sincere interest in me, my family and expressed delight that our daughter, Anna, was a basketball player.

We are grateful to Andrea Allen, Gwen Green and others who shared their reflections on the life and legacy of Coach Watson. As each of them stated, his positive influence will live on in generations to come.

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