Charles Edward “Bill” Watts went to be with the Lord Friday, January 12, 2018, after a brief illness. He was nicknamed Billy by both grandfathers, but went by Bill later in life. Born in rural Ben Wheeler, Texas, Bill grew up on the family farm established by an ancestor, Sugar Johnson Watts in the 1850s. He attended Van public schools. His father encouraged him to follow a college career path so he studied two years at East Texas State in Commerce as America entered World War II.
Bill enlisted in the Navy Air Corps at the age of 20, becoming a Fighter Ace flying an F6F Hellcat in VF-17 and VF-18 squadrons in two major operations throughout the Pacific in World War II with a tally record of 8 ¾ confirmed.
After being discharged, he met Wanda Lee Dodson of Van, Texas. On their second date, he told her they were getting married and two months later, they exchanged their vows. They celebrated their 72nd anniversary on December 2, 2017. He graduated from SMU in 1947 after his military service and went to work in the Production Department for Humble Oil Company, later Exxon. He lived in and around Houston working in that capacity until transferring to Baytown in 1963. Bill finished his career in the Houston Office as Labor Relations Advisor retiring in 1982.
He was an active member of Grace United Methodist Church and later Cedar Bayou Grace United Methodist Church as a treasurer of both. He was a faithful member of their church, taking numerous camping trips, even touring the states with the Methodist Camping Group. He played golf until recently and was active in the Goose Creek Country Club.
He was proud of his Navy service and was active in recent years in the American Fighter Aces Association and attended the recent award ceremony at the White House for the Congressional Gold Medal awarded that group. His decorations include the Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross with two gold Stars, Purple Heart, and the Air Medal with seven Gold Stars, along with two Presidential citations for serving on the Bunker Hill and Hornet aircraft carriers.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Howell Julius and Lovie Watts; grandson, Kyle McGowan; sister, Patsy Sherman; and nephew, Terry Sherman. He is survived by his wife Wanda; children, Charlie Watts of Houston, Ellen McGowan and husband Lynn of Grapevine, and Susan Stone and husband Tommy of Houston; grandchildren and spouses, Kristin and Efrain Higueros, Karen and Evan Lively, Megan and Joshua Pokluda, and Zachary and Jessica Stone; and great grandchildren, Cole Higueros and Gavin and Nolan Lively.
A visitation will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Navarre Funeral Home on Wednesday, January 17, 2018. Burial with military honors will be Thursday, January 18, 2018, at 10:15 a.m. at the Houston National Cemetery followed by a Memorial Service at Cedar Bayou Grace United Methodist Church, 2714 Ferry Rd., Baytown, TX 77520, at 3:00 p.m. with Pastor John Newsome officiating.
Serving as pallbearers will be Efrain Higueros, Evan Lively, Lynn McGowan, Joshua Pokluda, Tommy Stone, and Zachary Stone.
Memorial donations in his memory may be made to Cedar Bayou Grace United Methodist Church.
To view the online obituary or to post a tribute for the family, go to www.navarrefuneralhome.com
Arrangements are under the direction and personal care of Navarre Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 2444 Rollingbrook Dr., Baytown, TX, 77521 (281) 422-8111.