Deceased September 13, 2010
A story in courage and perseverance. Dick Watson ’53 died Sept. 13, 2010, in Brookhaven, N.Y., after decades of physical ailments that barely daunted his brilliant career, his active community involvement and his dedication to a wife of 53 years and family with strong connections to Amherst.
In the Summer of 1953, Dick contracted polio while an intern at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. He was on crutches from that time forward—until he shifted to a wheelchair in 2001with Parkinson’s disease and post-polio syndrome. Over close to a half-century, Dick earned a Ph.D. in physics at MIT, did postdoctoral work abroad, spent several years at Bell Labs and worked 37 years in the department of physics at Brookhaven National Lab, specializing in the theory of metals and alloys and retiring as a senior research physicist in 2002. In 1985, he was honored with the national Hume-Rothery Award for exceptional contributions to the science of alloys.
Throughout his career, Dick served on a number of Brookhaven town committees and with the Brookhaven Village Association. He was active with the Boy Scout Troop, a scoutmaster who marched regularly in the annual parade on crutches. He was also an active gardener, sailor and lover of classical music.
Married 53 years, he and his wife, Joan, had four sons, two of whom went to Amherst—Gavin ’83 and Jamie ’87. Also graduating from Amherst: daughters-in-law Barbara Winter Watson ’82 and Jodi Stevens Watson ’95. In the Fall 2010 issue of Amherst, Barbara Winter Watson tells of Dick’s struggles with Parkinson’s disease and post-polio syndrome and how she and her family run—not walk—on his behalf to support the Johns Hopkins Parkinson’s Disesase and Movement Disorder Center.
A memorial service was held Nov. 26 at St. James Parish in Brookhaven. Dave Winslow ’53 attended, a longtime friend and Brookhaven resident.
Philip W. Ransom Jr.’53