Betty Lucille Watkins was called to her eternal home on Monday, Jan. 30. For the last five years, she fought a grim battle with Alzheimer’s disease, but always with her dignity and sweet spirit intact. She was 89 years old.
Betty was born March 17, 1927, in Clarksville, Texas, the youngest child of Carl and Lizzie Phares. The family moved to Carlsbad, N.M., during her high school years, where she graduated in 1945. After high school, she worked as a bookkeeper for the Coca-Cola Bottling Company. One Sunday, sitting at the back of the church, she caught the eye of Jimmy Watkins. On Oct. 1, 1951, James H. and Betty were married in Alamogordo, N.M. They would be married for 53 years, holding hands ‘til the very end.
In June 1953, Jim and Betty, along with Jim’s parents, moved to Pagosa Springs, where, as told by Ray, her father-in-law, “the rivers actually have water in them!” Betty was always by Jim’s side in all of his endeavors, becoming a pioneer lady on the ranch and bookkeeper and partner in their businesses: Wolf Creek Industries, a house log mill, and High Country Lodge, a local motel. She was also the postmaster at Navajo, N.M., when Jim was training members of the Navajo tribe in the art of saw-filing at the new sawmill there. She and Jim became members of First Baptist Church of Pagosa Springs in 1953, serving faithfully throughout the years. Together they raised three children: Paula, Carla and James, who always remember Betty as a devoted mother, always there for them with love and encouragement, and good food on the dinner table every night.
Betty was an avid reader, history buff and patriot, always encouraging her grandchildren to learn about the history of America, and the lives and events of spiritual leaders in her Christian faith. She loved her books and assembled quite an extensive library. Her other great love was children, especially, of course, her grandkids. She played a major part in their lives, always willing to care for, teach, share her faith and love, using her favorite word of endearment, “darlin’.”
Betty is survived by her daughter, Carla Raye Bauer, and husband Paul; son James Lee Watkins and wife Linda; eight grandchildren: Susan (Bob) Williams, Steven (Tina) Parkhurst, Michael (Debbie) Moore, Christy (Stephen) Porter, Jesse (Jennifer) Bauer, Dusty (Kelly) Bauer, Resha (Jeremy) Still and Rachel Watkins; 15 great-grandchildren: Alisha, Justin, Stephanie, Paula, Katie, Brittany, McKenna, Trevor, Jamie, Parker, Raygan, Christian, Bowen, Finleigh and Wesley; and four great-great-grandchildren: Camryn, Averey, Hailey, and Quinn; a sister-in-law, Chessie McBride, along with many nieces and nephews.
Betty was preceded in death by her husband, James Homer Watkins; daughter Paula Ann Finch; her parents, Carl Roy Phares and Lizzie Mae (Phares) Skipworth; brothers Roy Lee Phares and Tom Johnson Phares; and two grandchildren, Megan Watkins and Christopher Lyn Williams.
Dearest Mom/Grandma Betty, we are so grateful to have been a part of your life. Your influence will be felt for generations to come. You are sorely missed, and will live on in our hearts forever.
A time of celebration and remembrance in honor of Betty’s life will be held on Feb. 25 at 11 a.m. at Centerpoint Church in Pagosa Springs.