William John ‘Bumper’ Watson, Jr.
October 17, 2018
Known to all throughout his life as “Bumper”, William J. Watson, Jr. died at the age of 87 on October 17, 2018. He was a loyal “Gator Great” of the University of Florida where he was a four-year letterman in Track and Field, member of the Football Team, brother of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, and member of Florida Blue Key. A long-time holder of the school’s 100-yard dash record, his success on the track led to his induction into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame. Serving during the Korean War, he played football for the United States Marine Corps. Bumper enjoyed a rewarding career in the banking and hospitality industry, as well as serving as Director of Alumni Affairs for the University of Florida. After retirement, he remained connected to UF as a long-time track and field official. Forever loyal to Phi Delta Theta, he served in many capacities including Chapter Advisor and House Corporation President.
Bumper is survived by his sister Viola Riebe; his former wife Karolyn H. Watson; their two daughters Karen Minno (Matt) and Kathy Burnett (Whitney); his grandchildren Matthew, Nick, and Kristy Minno, Stephen and Taylor Burnett; and his wife Cherry U. Watson. He was preceded in death by his parents William and Viola Watson; and his brother-in-law Herbert Riebe.
His determination was based in part on his favorite quote, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Those of us closest to him were genuinely lucky to have had him in our lives. He will be dearly missed and was greatly loved. He was a class act who lived a full life. Always positive and enjoying all things “Gator”, especially sports, the family hosted a celebration of life after the Gators vs. Idaho game on November 17th.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the “Florida Alpha Education Foundation – PDT”, c/o 253 NW Main Blvd, Lake City, Florida 32055 supporting Education Scholarships for Phi Delts at UF.