Watson had a varied and long athletic life, all of it post-college and most of it playground. For 25 years, he quarterbacked the Sunday morning Evans field football game in Rockport every fall. He played pickup YMCA and league basketball even longer. A lifelong member of the Sandy Bay Yacht Club in Rockport, he raced sailboats, Firefly dinghies, in which he was once club champion, and Star Boats less successfully. He was, with his wife Pat, an avid skier, most often at Killington.
In his late forties, he took up running and 24 times ran the annual June Mount Washington Race, 4,650 feet up to the top of Mount Washington, New England's tallest peak. He was the founder of "Team Gloucester," a cohesive, if not formally constituted running club on Cape Ann, begun as a race team for the Mount Washington race, and won the Master's Team competition in its inaugural 2003 outing. He was a regular at local races, Sunday morning Team Gloucester woods runs, and trail runs around New England in preparation for the annual Mount Washington conquest. He competed in more than a dozen Around the Cape Races on Labor Day.
Watson was born May 26, 1939 in Leominster, the second son of Mary E. and John R. Watson from whom he got his hometown and professional career. His mother, a junior high school Latin and Spanish teacher, had graduated from Emanuel College in 1924 where she had met a classmate, Anna Carroll, from Gloucester with whom she visited. Subsequently, she got a summer job at a Bass Avenue Ice Cream Shop, thus beginning a lifelong passion for Cape Ann. She married John Watson in 1934 in the old Saint Joachim's Church of Rockport. In 1938, they built a summer cottage on Smith Road, first occupied in the summer of 1939. His father, Jack, worked as a reporter for thirty years until his 1952 death.