Gene Watson, 83, of Sulphur Springs passed away January 13, 2020. He was born on October 4, 1936 in Tira, Texas to Ernest Lonnie and Myrza Chapman Watson. He married Janette Rorie on August 24, 1958 in Sulphur Springs.
From an early age, he wanted to work and help his family. He went door to door selling newspapers, bought a snow cone and fireworks stand, and paid for his first car by age 14. When he got his driver’s license the restriction required him to sit on three pillows so he could see over the steering wheel. During high school and college, he worked for Bridges Grocery Store, Nelson’s Corner Drug, and played Wildcat Baseball.
Gene was a 1955 graduate of Sulphur Springs High School and graduated from East Texas State University in 1959 with a degree in Industrial Technology. After college, he went to work in the Engineering Department of the Texas Highway Department and later the Purchasing Department of Rockwall International before he resigned to start his own businesses. Along with his partner, Tim Kelty, they started Home Real Estate Company, Home Development Company, The Home Place Mobile Home Park, Kel-Wat Manufacturing, Home Construction Company, Home Life Insurance, Morris Title and Abstract and Home Lumber Company.
He also started Watson Construction Company and Watson Real Estate, which later became Coldwell Banker Watson Company with his son David Watson.
In 1988, Watson and a group of local business men organized First American Mortgage Company with Watson serving as Chairman. The Mortgage Company grew and became First American Bank and Mortgage Company. In 1999, it merged with Guaranty Bank. Watson served on the Board of Directors of Guaranty Bancshares, Inc. until he retired in 2015.
He served his community as President of Hopkins, Franklin, Wood Counties Board of Realtors, Regional Director of the Texas Association of Realtors, President of the Sulphur Springs Board of Realtors, President of the Sulphur Springs Home Builders Association, President of the City of Sulphur Springs Industrial Development Authority, President of Sulphur Springs Crime Stoppers, Vice President of Hopkins County Industrial Fund, President of the Sulphur Springs Jaycees, President of the Sulphur Springs Kiwanis Club, President of the Hopkins County United Way, Director of the Hopkins County Economic Development Board, and President of the Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce. He was named Hopkins County Citizen of the Year in 1990.
He was proceeded in death by his parents, his sister Louise Fox and Clovis Fox, brother in law, Mark Rorie, niece Tracey Fox and great grandson Henry Burns. He is survived by his wife Janette, his son, and daughter-in-law David and Myra Watson, his daughter and son-in-law Gena and John Prickette, his grandchildren Megan and David Burns, Kate and Kiffer Davis, Ben Watson, and Caroline Prickette as well as three great granddaughters Rose Davis, Nora Burns, and Margot Davis. He is also survived by his sister Mary Jo and Garry Thompson of San Antonio, brother in law Joe and Sheila Rorie and sister in law Paula Rorie. Also, nieces and nephews Maleta and Ricky Reynolds, Mike Fox, Lonnie Fox, Karmen and Keith Binka, Shana and Ron Prichard, Courtney Rorie, Brittney and Ashby Spruiell, Jeff and Kensey Rorie, JJ Rorie and Gail Babitt, and Chris Rorie.
The family is grateful for the care of Dr. Darren Arnecke, Choice Hospice, and Seven Sisters Care of Sherman, Texas. If desired, memorials may be made to the Nursery Department of First United Methodist Church where six generations of the Watson family have worshiped.
Memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at First United Methodist Church. Arrangements are under the direction of West Oaks Funeral Home. www.westoaksfuneralhome.com
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