Tuesday, December 15th, 2009...5:07 am
W. Burke Watson, Sr., ’48
W. Burke Watson, 83, of Sumter, widower of Jeanne Carr Watson, died Sunday, December 13, 2009, in Palmetto Health Richland Hospital in Columbia. Born in Sumter, he was a son of the late William Burke Watson Sr. and Kate Brogdon Watson. Mr. Watson was a member of First Presbyterian Church, where he was a member of the Fraser-Edmunds Sunday School class and served as a deacon and elder. He entered The Citadel in 1943 and took up boxing as a sport. He left the Corps of Cadets to join the Marine Corps during World War II, and served in Guam and China. Upon his return to The Citadel, he continued his boxing career, and won the Individual Southern Conference Championship in his division. He graduated from The Citadel in 1948. He served as director and as vice-president of the Brigadier Association, a life member of the Association of Citadel Men, past alumni member – Citadel Athletic Advisory Committee, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Citadel Trust. He was the first member emeritus of The Citadel Trust. He was recently named a member of the Summerall Society in recognition of a lifetime of giving to The Citadel. Upon his return to Sumter in 1950, he and his partner, Clifton G. Brown, founded Brown-Watson, Inc. He was a president and a life member of the Sumter Optimist Club, where he convinced this civic group to begin and support the Sumter Youth Boxing Club in 1953. For over 50 years, he gave his time, talent and resources to develop many young boys into athletes and young men. Later on, the Optimist Youth Center was named in his honor. He was named Sumter’s Outstanding Young Man of the Year in 1960. He was president of the Sumter YMCA in 1965, and was chosen as the YMCA’s “Humanitarian of the Year” in 2004. He also served as president of the Sumter Chamber of Commerce, the Sumter Board of Realtors, the Sumter Independent Insurance Agents, the Home Builders Association of Sumter/Clarendon County, and as chairman of the S.C. Independent Schools Athletic Commission. He was a former member of the Sumter City and County Zoning Board of Appeal, the Tax Appeal Board, the Sumter County Development Board, and he served as secretary-treasurer of the S.C. Association of Realtors. He recently earned status of Realtor Emeritus from the National Association of Realtors. He was a co-founder of Wilson Hall School and served on the Wilson Hall board, the National Bank of South Carolina board, and had served as a trustee of Crosswell Children’s Home for over 40 years. He was inducted into the Sumter Athletic Hall of Fame, The Citadel Athletic Hall of Fame, and the Carolinas Boxing Hall of Fame where he was also a recipient of the Ambassador Award. Former Governor Hodges presented him with “The Order of the Silver Crescent” in 2002. Surviving are three sons, W. Burke Watson III and wife, Robin; Michael C. Watson and Keller H. Watson, all of Sumter; one daughter, Kathryn W. McElveen and husband, Joseph T. McElveen Jr., of Sumter; a daughter-in-law, Cheryl S. Watson of Sumter; one sister, Anne W. Clark and husband, Duane, of Boone, NC; nine grandchildren, J. Thomas McElveen III, Tracy W. Spigner, Sondra Carr Watson, Kate Watson McElveen, Brianna W. Fletcher, Anne-Hayes Watson, W. Burke “Will” Watson, IV, J. Hunter Watson and Mary Grace Watson. Funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at First Presbyterian Church with Dr. Mark Durrett, Rev. Janie McElwee-Smith and Rev. Tommy McGill officiating. Burial will be in Sumter Cemetery. Pallbearers will be J. Thomas McElveen III, W. Burke “Will” Watson IV, J. Hunter Watson, Steve Creech, Fulton “Chip” B. Creech III, Dr. Ted McGill, Senator Yancey McGill and F. Hilton McGill Jr. Honorary pallbearers will be members of the Fraser-Edmunds Sunday School class, members of the Optimist Club, and the Board of Trustees of the Crosswell Children’s Home. The family will receive friends from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Elmore Hill McCreight Funeral Home and other times at the home of his son, Burke, 3325 Gristmill Lane, Sumter, SC. Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 9 W. Calhoun Street, Sumter, SC 29150, to Wilson Hall School, 520 Wilson Hall Road, Sumter, SC 29150, or to the Jeanne C. Watson Oncology Endowment, in care of the Tuomey Foundation, 115 N. Sumter Street, Suite #120, Sumter, SC 29150. On-line condolences may be sent to www.sumterfunerals.com. Elmore Hill McCreight Funeral Home & Crematory, 221 Broad Street, Sumter, is in charge of the arrangements (803) 775-9386.