Frederic Thurman Watts, Jr., retired Colonel (USMC Naval Aviator) and college professor, 96, died peacefully at Fox Hollow Senior Living in Pinehurst, NC.
“Being accepted for flight school in 1942, at 18, as 1 of 100 selected out of 1,000 candidates, was a defining factor in my first career. The big day was pinning on the gold wings and bars at Pensacola.” Fred flew three combat tours: WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Of all his decorations, he was most proud of his combat awards: Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star with Combat “V”, 12 air medals and a Purple Heart.
His assignments in the Corps, including ones with commands and sister services, were almost all in operations. ”I had a legitimate reason to be checked out in any, and all, available aircraft. As a result I was able to fly all but two of the fighter aircraft that the Marine Corps had during my 27 years on active duty and become carrier qualified in six of them.” Fred had over 200 carrier landings.
While on active duty, he earned his BS in Military Science (U of Omaha), and his Masters in International Affairs. (Georgetown)
After completing a Doctorate (U of SC), Fred joined the faculty at Elon College. The Elon community thought that he brought a unique and diverse set of useful skills that made him a valuable addition. Fred was a committed scholar, a dedicated teacher, a superb mentor, and a highly respected and beloved colleague. He moved up through the ranks quickly and became a full professor and department head. He left generations of loyal students, supportive and affectionate colleagues, and a stronger and better institution that he helped create.
Fred grew up in Wethersfield, CT, with his parents, Frederic T. Watts and Edna Anita Courtemanche, and his sister, Anita Jean Watts. In junior high, he occasionally walked home his future wife, Jane Isabella Griswold. (Married 55 years) He was preceded in death by Jane, an infant daughter, Mary Elizabeth, his parents and his sister. He was the loving father of two, Frederic T. Watts, III/Rick (Eva) and Lee Watts Foreman (Mike). He was adored by his grandchildren, Bari Turk (Brian), Thomas Watts (Susi), and Elisabeth Watts.
Fred lived his life full speed ahead. Family vacations were spent moving from one assignment to the next, camping across the US, overnighting in as many National Parks as possible. Before his children were out of elementary school, they had visited every state except Alaska. He taught them to body surf, ski, sail, hike and every word to the Marine Corps Hymn. Fred loved a good joke and could make killer eggnog and a mean Margarita.
He never met a stranger, and throughout their lives, his and Jane’s many homes were always full of friends, love and laughter. This continued in their retirement home in Seven Lakes, where he also played golf, tennis, sailed and read.
During his final years, he received loving care and support by the staff at Fox Hollow. First Health Hospice expertly managed his last weeks. His funeral will be in Arlington on a future date. Memorials may be made to First Health Hospice, 251 Campground Road, West End, NC 27376.
Simon Funeral Home is serving the family.