Bill passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family. Bill was the only child of Ruth Marjorie Nichols and Charles (Cam) Campbell Watson. Bill is preceded in death by his wife Jeanne and oldest son Bruce and is survived by Ginnie (Hal) Mathews and Jim (Barb) Watson; and grandsons Hunter Mathews, Kyle Watson, and Cole Watson.
Bill was born in Berkeley, graduated from Berkeley HS and then joined the Navy serving on the USS Raymond W. Herndon during World War II. After the war, he graduated from Bethany College; where his father and grandfather had graduated from. He was a member of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity’s Psi Chapter.
After college, Bill worked for W.R. Grace, which included a short stint in central America. After returning to California he joined Pacific Bell, where he started work in their Traffic Department; first in the Salinas office; then Bakersfield; Sacramento, where he worked on the Telstar communications satellite; and eventually in their San Francisco headquarters. Bill developed a specialty in long-distance communications revenue allocation, which enabled him to work with many small and independent telephone companies. His friendship with many of them extended beyond the divestiture of the bell system. In 1972, Bill accepted an assignment to teach at the Bell System’s Center for Technical Education in Lisle IL. In 1975, he accepted a special position in Industry Relations working in AT&T’s Manhattan office, where he continued to work on the divestiture and special projects until his retirement.
While working in Salinas, Bill met and married the love of his life, Jeanne Marie Hamilton. They were married for 60 wonderful years. It was Jeanne’s love of the Sierra’s, specifically the Silver Lake area, that led them to explore the local history and eventually to volunteer with the United States Forest Services in their “Adopt-A-Trail” program, where they worked to preserve a segment of the Carson route of the California Emigrant Trail. Annually, Bill and his family worked on the trail (and took time to do some much needed fishing). This effort eventually led Bill to became engaged in the Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA). Bill served on OCTA’s Board of Directors and from 1989 to 1991, he served as its President. Bill also co-led OCTA’s Legislative Liaison Committee, where his efforts helped to get the National Trails System authorized by congress. Bill was working with OCTA and the Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS) on expansion of this system before his untimely passing. For more than 31 years, Bill made an annual trek to Washington DC to advocate for the trails system and to provide congress with a progress report summarizing how volunteer efforts were preserving this vanishing piece of American heritage. He received OCTA’s Meritorious Achievement Award and the Department of Interior’s “Take Pride in America Award”.
In 1998, Bill and Jeanne returned to California, where he pursued an interest in genealogy, continued to share his love of the trail and fishing with his family, and have periodic Dim Sum lunches at Yank Sing. In 2014, Bill became a member in the Sons in Retirement’s Branch 171, where he especially enjoyed the camaraderie of his walking groups.
A private service was held. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to either OCTA, the PNTS, or Bethany College.