Watson was also known for his physical prowess; he ran up Mount Washington and skied down its Tuckerman Ravine after hiking up the mountain with his ski gear. He was an avid sailor and played quarterback for more than 15 years at Sunday morning football games at Evans Field.
Just 18 months ago, he ran up Mount Washington during the 52nd Run to the Clouds, an all-uphill 7.6 mile run to the summit of the highest peak in the Northeast.
Two months later, he confronted a diagnosis of brain cancer, but he underwent intense treatment, and it wasn’t long before he returned to running around town.
He was born in Leominster to a mother who was a Latin teacher and a father who worked as reporter for 30 years at the Fitchburg Sentinel and previously the Worcester Telegram.
Watson graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1961 with a degree in political science. He served six months in the Army Reserve before landing his first newspaper job as an editor of several weeklies in the Worcester area. But in 1963, he found a job as a daily reporter at the former Beverly Times. During a recent interview at his home, he recalled how one of his first assignments was to get local reaction to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
He left the paper in 1969 to work as editor for a sailboat racing magazine. After covering America’s Cup trials in 1970, he took the job as editor of the Gloucester Daily Times. Even when he went on to larger executive roles, he remained close to the Cape Ann newspaper, always providing tips and story ideas to the reporters.
Watson nurtured a close bond with his two sons, Seth and Jared.
“We may have a small biological family, but we have a huge extended family with people all over the place because of how he opened up this house to so many young people,” said 43-year-old Jared. “This house was just so much fun all the time.”
Instead of using his authority in the workplace, he influenced those he oversaw by leading the way, Seth said.
“The person we saw was pretty much the person everyone else saw,” he said. “There was a consistent face that he presented to everybody.”
The family is planning a memorial service, although a date has not yet been set.