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Obituary - Raymond Gene Watson


Last updated 5/21/2021 at 12:29pm

Raymond Watson

Raymond Gene Watson of Great Falls, Montana, passed away in the early hours of May 7, 2021.

He was born to Harry Richard Holland Watson and Nora Myrtle Baumer Watson on January 14, 1933, in Havre, Montana. He was educated in the Havre Public Schools, graduating from Havre High School in 1951. He attended Northern Montana College - now MSU-Northern - from 1951 to 1953.

In the summer of 1953, he worked in the Texas oil fields with his brother-in-law. He then moved to Seattle where he was a tool maker for Boeing Aircraft.

In 1954, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and became an electronics technician. He volunteered to become one of the early guided missilemen. During his enlistment, he served in the Korean War. 

In 1957, Ray married Susan Elissa Carson of Paw Paw, Michigan. Sue was working for the CIA at the time, and they met in Washington, D.C., through a mutual friend, Bill Johnson. Sue left the CIA to marry Ray, and after their wedding, they lived at the Chincoteague Naval Air Station in Virginia.

Ray was honorably discharged in 1959 and enrolled at Montana State College - now MSU - in Bozeman. In December of 1961, he received a bachelor's degree in history, along with teaching credentials, and started teaching at Havre High School in 1962. In 1965 Ray returned to Montana State College and received his master's degree in History and Philosophy. He went home to Havre High in 1966, where he continued to teach until his retirement in 1990.

Ray was the chair of the Social Studies Department and taught American History, Montana History, World History, and an honors course in philosophy. He and Sue also accompanied Havre High School students on numerous history trips to New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Williamsburg.

Ray served as president of the Havre Education Association. He was also the legislative chairperson and a contract negotiator.  He served on the Montana Education Association Board, and was vice president of the North Central District, and part of the Financial Planning Cadre. He served on the Advisory Committee for Performance Based Education at Northern Montana College.

Ray was elected to the Havre City Council in 1969. Over the next 13 years, he served as council president, chairperson of finance and participated on several other boards and committees. In 1981, he was elected mayor of Havre, and served a four-year term. He was proud of the infrastructure improvements made during his tenure.

After retiring in 1990, Ray and Sue moved to the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State. Ray became a volunteer at the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Washington. In 1994, they moved to the Denver area to tutor Spanish-speaking students in fourth grade math for five years. While there, Ray served as the president of the Meals on Wheels program.

In August of 2000, they moved to Great Falls, where they took up a busy life volunteering at the C.M. Russell Museum, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, the Great Falls Rescue Mission, and the First United Methodist Church.  Together they compiled thousands of hours of volunteer time in Great Falls over the last two decades. In 2002, Montana State University-Northern recognized Ray's lifetime achievements by awarding him the Founders Award for Excellence.

Ray was a great storyteller and a great listener. He was a master teacher and had a way of distilling history to its essence, and then communicating it astonishingly well. He loved to work with wood and was a skilled craftsman who miraculously lived his entire life with all ten fingers intact. He was a strong man with a soft heart that would reach out to help anyone, or any cat, in need.  Everyone who was family or friend knew that he loved them. He was a husband, a father, a gentleman, and a scholar. More importantly, Ray was a good man. He is deeply missed.

Ray is survived by Sue, his wife of 63 years; their daughter, Deborah (Ted) Barkley of Bozeman, Montana; their son, Richard (Ann) Watson of Cascade, Montana; two grandchildren, Rosalynd (Aaron) Smith of Ellensburg, Washington, and Robert (Jordan) Schriber of Greeley, Colorado; three great-grandchildren, Archer and Charleigh Kate Smith, Aiden Schriber, and one great-granddaughter on the way; three stepgrandchildren, Nick Barkley, Paul Barkley, and Sarah Barkley, all in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area; brother, Richard (Mary) Watson of Manson, Washington; and numerous nephews and nieces.

He was predeceased by his parents and his sister, Beatrice D. (Watson) Cioc.

We have faith that he is re-joining his mother and father and that gives us peace. However, he is also joining his best friend and partner-in-crime, Louis Lucke, who predeceased him by several years, and this combination makes us a little nervous.  We can only hope that Heaven is prepared. 

Condolences and memories may be shared online at http://www.SchniderFuneralHome.com .

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, July 31, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. at First United Methodist Church in Great Falls. All are welcome to attend.


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