Watson, Wilson Lea

1/11/1970

WILSON LEA WATSON
- Jan. 11, 1970
 
On Sunday night, January 11, 1970, after having been seriously ill for four months, Wilson Lea Watson received his final appointment from the Lord — to the Church Triumphant. The Louisiana Conference lost one of its most beloved and effective ministers, and a host of people lost a warm personal friend. The high esteem with which Wilson was held was evidenced by the great group of persons who came to share the sorrow of his loss with his family and to attend the funeral service on Tuesday, January 13, 1970, at the First United Methodist Church, Pineville where he was pastor at the time of his death.
The funeral service was conducted by his District Superintendent, the Rev. John F. Kilpatrick. Bishop Aubrey G. Walton brought a very comforting message of hope and expressed his own personal grief in the loss of Wilson Watson, who had been a warm personal friend to him. In doing so, Bishop Walton had expressed the feelings of many, many people, both lay and clergy, who mourned Wilson’s death.
Wilson Watson’s life had begun as it ended, in a Methodist parsonage. He was born to the Rev, and Mrs. B. D. Watson at Pine Grove, Louisiana, in a parsonage. In a very real sense the Methodist Church was Wilson’s very life. On one occasion we were discussing our relation to the church and Wilson said to me, “Dickie, the Methodist Church is my life. The Methodist Church has provided me bread all of my life. I met the Lord in the Methodist Church. The Lord called me to preach in the Methodist Church. My college and seminary training was obtained in schools provided by the Methodist Church. The Methodist Church has given me more than I can ever give back. Is it any wonder that I love the Methodist Church and that I have to be the best preacher that I know how to be?”
His dedication made Wilson an unusually effective preacher and pastor wherever he served. He had a burning desire to be a good preacher of the gospel and because he worked at it, he was in much demand to preach for Revival meetings. Wilson had an unusual ability to relate to persons. His warm personal interest and his keen sense of humor put people at ease in his presence and drew them to him. His warm personal interest in people made him an effective and beloved pastor and resulted in his having a wide circle of lasting friends. He radiates his Strong faith in a personal loving Heavenly Father. In the closing months of his life, he magnified this faith and demonstrated how a Christian should die. On one occasion when I visited him in Schumpert he said to me “Dickie, I know I am in trouble. Gracie and I have talked it all over and we know that no matter what happens, everything will be all right. I have a burial plot not far from here, right across the road from Bishop Dobbs. When Gabriel blows his horn, Bishop Dobbs and I will walk arm-in-arm to meet the Lord. Can’t beat that, can you?” This was the spirit in which Wilson lived and died.
Wilson began his ministry as a preacher in the Methodist Church on September 11, 1941, when he was licensed a local Preacher at a Quarterly Conference conducted by Dr. A. M. Serex at the Mangum Memorial Methodist Church, Shreveport. Dr. Serex appointed Wilson as supply pastor of the Trees City Methodist Church, Trees City, Louisiana, where he served until November of 1942, when he was appointed to supply the Grand Cane Methodist Charge, where he served until November of 1945, During the period of 1941-45, he attended Centenary College where he received his A. B. degree. At the Annual Conference in November 1945, Wilson was received on Trial in the Louisiana Annual Conference. He entered Perkins School of Theology in the Fall of 1945 and received his B. D. degree from there in the spring of 1948. While a student at Perkins, he served as pastor of the Sixth Street Methodist Church, Longview, Texas, 1945-1946. Wilson was ordained a Deacon and became a member in Full connection of the Louisiana Annual Conference in 1947 and was appointed to the Pelican, La. Charge. He was ordained an Elder in 1948, and the churches that he served foil owing the Annual Conference of 1948 were as follows: 1948-1950 — Morningside Methodist, Shreveport; 1950 — Davidson Memorial Lafayette,; 1950-1953 —Associate of Noel Memorial, Shreveport; 1953-1957 — Ponchatoula First Methodist; 1957-1960 — Eunice First Methodist; 1960-1963 — Tailulah First Methodist; 1963-1967 — Grace Methodist, Ruston; 1967-1970 — First Methodist, Pineville. Wilson also served effectively on the following Conference Boards and Commissions: Member of the Insurance Committee, the Commission on Higher Education, Secretary of the Commission on Student Center Buildings, Chairman of the Commission on Television, Radio and Films, and he was serving as secretary of the Commission on World Service and Finance at the time of his death.
Very early in life Wilson met and fell in love with Miss Gracie Protliro of Gibsland, Louisiana. They were married on May 12, 1934. A couple more devoted to each other would be difficult to imagine. Wilson started on more than one occasion Gracie is not only the prettiest woman in the world, she’s also the best cook and best fishing companion a fellow could desire.” Gracie and Wilson were not blessed with children of their own, so to make their home complete, on September 2, 1952 they adopted a baby girl and named her Diane, whom Wilson loved dearly. Wilson often expressed his deep satisfaction with, and love for, his home and family in a lighter vein by singing “Just Gracie and me, and Diane makes three, in my blue heaven.” Early during the summer of 1969 Diane was married to Allan Patterson and Wilson boasted that he now had a son. He was truly a loving and devoted father.
Space does not permit writing all that I feel in my heart. I close this memoir by simply stating that with the going of Wilson Watson, I lost a very close friend who was the rare combination of a very earthy human being and at the same time a strong son of God.
Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, Conference A, 1970, Pages 145-146, by Richard E. Walton.