Saturday, October 11, 2003

John Watson, Clermont judge, county organizer



By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo]
Mr. Watson

PIERCE TWP. - Countless calls have poured in this week to the home of John L. Watson, a former Clermont County Common Pleas judge and a man who contributed to the development of that county for the past 50 years.

"I was always very honored to be his son, (but) I've never been more proud of him than I am right now - to see how admired and respected he was is overwhelming," said Tony Watsonof Pierce Township.

Mr. Watson died at his home here Sunday after a 15-year battle with cancer. He was 79.

"As a judge he was known for his even-handed approach to the administration of justice," said attorney Scott Croswell of Milford. "He was a lawyer's judge. He never forgot he had once been a lawyer also."

Mr. Watson grew up in Danbury, Conn., where he graduated from the public high school in 1942. He served as an Army 2nd lieutenant with a tank division and was about to be shipped out to invade Japan when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Mr. Watson entered the University of Cincinnati's College of Business Administration in 1946 and was admitted to the College of Law two years later.

After earning a law degree in 1950, he went into private practice in Bethel and later Batavia.

He was appointed to Common Pleas Court in 1981and served until 1994.

Mr. Watson was chairman of the committee that made recommendations on subdivision regulations in Clermont County. He also provided legal assistance in the incorporation of several agencies, including the Community Improvement Corp. and the Williamsburg Ohio Development Corp.

Mr. Watson was director of the Clermont County Board of Elections from 1957 until 1980, solicitor for the village of Williamsburg from 1951 until 1977; for the village of Moscow 1971-80; and was a director of the First Milford Savings Assn.

He was also chairman of the Clermont County Republican Executive Committee from 1966 until 1975 and again from 1978-80.

"From a political standpoint, I believe he is responsible in large part for Clermont County being a Republican stronghold," Croswell said. "He and his wife, Eda, were keenly involved in politics. While he was clearly a partisan politician he was a fair politician."

In addition to his son, Tony, survivors include Eda, his wife of 58 years; another son, Mike of Batavia; nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is 1:30 p.m. Monday at Anderson Hills Methodist Church, 7515 Forest Road.

Memorials: Vitas Healthcare Corp. of Ohio, 11500 Northlake Drive, Suite 400, Cincinnati, OH 45249.

E-mail rgoodman@enquirer.com




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