Mission businessman and community leader Roscoe Eugene Watkins died Monday, Oct. 3, 2011 in hospice care after a brief stay at Mission Regional Medical Center.
He was an active part of the community since the 1940s and was recognized by the community when they named him Man of the Year in 1975 and Mr. Mission in 1991.
Mr. Watkins was born in Grundy Center, Iowa on Feb. 21, 1920, to Jessie Mae and Frank Elmer Watkins. Watkins received a scholarship to Tarkio College in Missouri and performed as a tenor in a quartet while there. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1942. He married Betty Naomi Wilson on Oct. 23, 1943 at the Methodist Church in Mission.
Upon graduation, he joined the Army Air Corps and was dispatched to Texas for training at Moorefield Air Base, north of Mission, during World War II. At the conclusion of his flight training, due to the intricacy of his flying skills, he was asked to become a flight instructor at the base to prepare pilots for air combat. He attained the rank of 1st Lieutenant before his honorable discharge in 1945.
Drawn to the south Texas warmth, and not having to shovel snow, Watkins eventually settled in at Weaks Martin Implement as a parts man in 1946. He bought the store from Martin in 1972 and retired in 1982. For the next 26 years he traveled the world while continuing to support and serve in the community.
He was past president of the Mission Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Valley Chamber of Commerce, and a past chairman of Keep Mission Beautiful.
As a member of Mission Rotary Club since 1947, he received their distinguished Paul Harris Fellowship award. He was also president of Mission’s United Fund, president of the American Field Service in Mission, past member of the Hidalgo County Child Welfare Board, president of the McAllen Community Concert Association, and was part of the mayor’s prayer breakfast from its inception.
Watkins was instrumental in the formation of Agape Christian School and has been a member of the board as well as chairman of the endowment committee. His service to youth extended to being a conference committee member and the first president of Horizons of Mission, a juvenile first offenders program.
An active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Mission, he became an elder in 1950. He taught Sunday school and served as a youth director and a member of the choir.
He is survived by his wife, Betty; daughter, Beth and husband, Bill, and their two children, Erika and Justin; son, John and wife, Laurel and their three sons, Michael, Ryan and Colton; and three great-grandchildren, Grant, Ryder and Harper.
Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 7 at Ric Brown Family Funeral Home. The funeral service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Mission at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, with a reception following in fellowship hall.
The family has requested that donations can be made to the Valley Land Fund in lieu of flowers.