NORTH AUGUSTA — Dr. W.G. “Curly” Watson, 102, was remembered with both tears and laughter Saturday in funeral services at Grace United Methodist Church.
Dr. Randy Cooper, his son-in-law, recalled when Watson was 77 but decided to be recertified as an obstetrician, even though he had been grandfathered in years before.
When the results came back, Cooper said, Watson had scored a 98, prompting him to call the medical board and ask what two questions he got wrong. When they told him, Watson answered, “I’ve been doing this for 40 years, your answers are wrong.”
That and other stories brought laughter and smiles to hundreds attending services to remember Watson, who died Wednesday at University Hospital, where he began practicing in 1947 and delivered an estimated 15,000 babies over a 50-year span as an obstetrician.
He was recalled Saturday as a man of fierce conviction in his faith, one who believed in medicine and put his family and friends before anything else.
Dr. John Newell III thanked God for Watson’s long life. He said Watson served tens of thousands as a doctor and was a lifelong servant to his faith. When someone from Grace was admitted to University under his care, he would try to always get them a room facing North Augusta.
Cooper said the family called him “Pappa Doc,” and Watson’s commitment to being a doctor was unparalleled. He even decided to undergo surgery on Christmas Eve one year so he would not miss a day of work.
Cooper said Watson touched generations of patients through his practice. On his 100th birthday, Watson heard from a patient who said she was devastated when she had to have a cesarean section during the birth of her first child because she had always wanted six children. Watson put his hand on her and said, “Sugar, you’ll just have to have five more C-sections.”
“He is the last of a lost generation,” Cooper said. “He outlived his generation by 25 years.”
Watson had integrity and character, and was right, fair and honorable, Cooper said, but he never wanted any recognition for it.
“He walked his talk,” he said.
The Rev. James Dennis Jr. talked about what it must have been like for Watson to live more than a century. When he was born, women couldn’t vote and there was no television.
“The world didn’t change him,” he said. “He was steady and consistent.”
Most of all, Dennis said, Watson was a truly humble man.
“He didn’t seem all that impressed with himself,” he said. “But we were.”