In Memoriam

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Edward Gunn Watson ’43

A picture of Edward Watson

Edward Gunn Watson ’43, August 15, 2013, in Eugene, Oregon. Ed transferred into Reed from Oregon State College (University), and earned a BA in political science. He had fond memories of rowing crew at a time when Reed gained press for having the first female coxswain in collegiate rowing, Mary Russell Bauer ’43. Ed and Ruth S. Hahnel ’43 married in 1942. Of life after Reed, Ed recalled: “The ink was scarcely dry on my Reed diploma in early 1943, when I was inducted into the U.S. Army Air Corps. After 35 missions as a B-24 bomber pilot in the 8th Air Force, I, like thousands of others, concluded that army life was not for me.” Between missions, Ed was delighted to explore his family roots in visits to the Scottish Highlands. After his service concluded, Ed earned an MA in political science at the University of Washington and then taught at Whitman College. To make ends meet on a teacher’s salary, he moonlighted as executive secretary of the county planning commission. Two years later he became the first full-time planning director for Walla Walla. “Along the way, I picked up some additional hats as a volunteer fireman, fire district commissioner, and county civil defense director.” In 1962, he returned to Oregon as an urban planning consultant on the staff of the University of Oregon Bureau of Municipal Research and Service, which had been founded by Herman Kehrli ’23. He and Ruth parted ways in 1966, but remained lifelong friends in the care of their daughter and son. A brief marriage to Dolores Epps ended with her sudden death and he later married Mary S. Huser. The couple lived in Eugene, where they were active in Westminster Presbyterian Church and maintained a flourishing garden—Ed was said to be the first person to produce kiwi fruit in Oregon. They also traveled abroad. Ed loved life and learning, and was interested in everything from rocks to astronomy. Mary died in 2006.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2014

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