Sunday, February 23, 2014

Feb. 23, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

Samuel M. Watkins, Jr.

HENDERSON — Samuel Merriweather Watkins, Jr., age 80, a resident of 2106 Woodland Road, died Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, at his home.

Born on Aug. 8, 1933, in Vance County, he was the son of the late Samuel Merriweather Watkins Sr. and Martha Leah Rose Watkins.

Sam graduated from Henderson High School in 1952 and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1956. He served in the U.S. Army from 1956 until 1958.

He was president of Rose Oil Company, and was a member and chairman of the Economic Development Commission in Vance County where he served for 33 years, and on the Maria Parham Medical Center Board of Trustees for 22 years.

He co-founded the Henderson Downtown Development Corporation from which the North Carolina Main Street Program evolved. In 2008, he and his brother were the recipients of the Community Hero Award given by the Vance County Commissioners for making the community a better place to live.

He was the recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine and in 1985 he was Vance County’s Outstanding Citizens of the Year.

He headed United Way campaigns, and was active with establishing the Vance Recreation Department and facilities for Vance County youth, and was co-founder of the Vance County Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

He was a former member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board, member of the Citizens Bank and Trust Company Board, and a chairman of the NCNB Board in Henderson. Over the past decade Mr. Watkins’ proudest accomplishment was the forming of the Embassy Cultural Center Foundation, and building a new public library and cultural center in Henderson.

The library was dedicated in 2007 and the cultural center will be completed in 2014. Sam was a member and elder at First Presbyterian Church in Henderson and attended the First Baptist Church. Mr. Watkins was a tireless advocate for his community and its people. He will be deeply missed by all.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church by Dr. Ronald S. Cava and Dr. Marion D. Lark. Burial will follow in Elmwood Cemetery.

He is survived by his wife, Gloria Smith Watkins of the home; two daughters, Charisse Watkins Lassiter and husband Steve and Dee Watkins Moss and husband Paul all of Henderson; one son, Samuel M. “Trey” Watkins, III and wife Sarah of Wake Forest; one step-daughter, Gina Grissom Johnson and husband Paul of Newnan, Ga.; two step-sons, George M. “Mel” Grissom of Lexington, Ky., and Gavin M. Grissom of Chesapeake, Va.; his twin brother, George Rose Watkins Sr. and wife Chickie of Henderson; his half-sister, Faye Watkins Tyree and husband, James Earl of Richmond, Va.; four grandchildren, William Paul Moss II, Curtis S. Lassiter II, Sawyer Watkins and Jesse Watkins; and three step-grandchildren, Alex Johnson, Toby Johnson and Luke Johnson.

The family will receive friends Monday, Feb. 24, from 4-8 p.m. at the home at 2106 Woodland Road.

Serving as active pallbearers will be Donald Seifert, John Wester, Cornell Floyd, Robert Gill Young Jr., Jimmy Brafford, Raymond Bartholomew, Jackie Ellis, Bill Edwards, Bill Mast and John Zollicoffer.

Serving as honorary pallbearers will be all employees of Rose Oil Company.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Embassy Cultural Center Foundation, P.O. Box 769, Henderson, NC  27536.

Arrangements are by J. M. White Funeral Home.

Paid obituary