the orchestra world

A Death in the Family

Today my wife and I went up to Puyallup, Washington (my hometown, a bedroom community to Tacoma and Seattle) to attend a reception in honor of my high school orchestra conductor, maker of my first viola, and my first viola teacher: William D. Watson. He passed away on October 27th. It was not a shock, as he’d been in fragile health for the past year or so, but even so, I always expected Mr. Watson (as I always called him) to be around – he was an institution in my life and in the lives of many others.

He was often noted for his wry sense of humor and his passion for both performing and attending concerts. He was a great educator in both his role as an orchestral conductor and as a private teacher. I think that I learned a lot about developing a sense of fairness and justice in the music business from him. I will miss him dearly.

Here is the published obituary:


William Dean Watson, 78, of Puyallup, died October 27,
2006. The only child of Willis and Nellie Watson, Bill was born March
11, 1928 in Centralia, Washington. He graduated from Centralia High
School in 1946, and from Centralia Junior College and the University of
Washington with a degree in Violin Performance. After serving two years
in the Army, he returned to the University and completed a degree in
Music Education. In 1955, he met and married his wife, Nancy. He also
began his 30-year career as an orchestra teacher in Hoquiam,
Washington. He moved to Longview in 1959 and to Puyallup in 1969. To
celebrate his retirement from teaching in 1985, Bill and Nancy took
their first trip to Europe. Bill became a full-time string instrument
maker after retiring from teaching, crafting over 250 instruments. Bill
remained an active musician throughout his life, performing in
professional and community orchestras and chamber groups. Known for his
wry sense of humor, he always enjoyed a good book, a good concert or a
good game of pinochle. Survivors include his wife, Nancy; sons Michael,
Mark and his fiancee Christina Barath; daughters Tamara and her husband
Parker Dalberg, Sharon, Julie and her husband Philip Lucich; a cousin,
Lois Clark of Seattle; grandchildren, Emily and Aaron Lucich and Andrea
Watson; brothers-in-law, John Damitio of Arizona and Murray Damitio of
California. Viewing will be held Monday, October 30 from 4-8 p.m. at
Powers Funeral Home, Puyallup. There will be a reception Wednesday,
November 1, from 3-5 p.m. at the family home. In lieu of flowers,
donations may be made to the American Heart Association or the American
Cancer Society.

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By Charles Noble

I'm the Assistant principal violist of the Oregon Symphony.

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