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James E. Watrous, Jr.
December 11, 1941 ~ April 20, 2023 (age 81) 81 Years Old
Born in the Southeast to a Connecticut Yankee and an Appalachian farm girl, James E. Watrous, Jr., age 81, of Knoxville, Tennessee, died April 20, 2023. He lived all over the world, including France for three years and in states from Hawaii to Washington state, among others.
From an early age, James learned the meaning of hard work, peddling strawberries from his uncle’s farm door-to-door in an affluent East Tennessee neighborhood, racing around on his bike to deliver newspapers to his 100+ customers, laboring some summers on his grandfather’s and uncle’s farms for fifty cents an hour or for nothing at all. He helped plant and harvest crops and tobacco; helped with killing hogs; and shoveled manure from time to time. From these experiences, he learned that a farming career was not in his future.
As a teenager, James had an almost-fatal bike accident that fractured his skull. Remarkably, his grades improved after that, so the accident must have knocked some sense into him, he joked.
James worked his way through college by working in the university’s public relations office and later by joining the ROTC program. Not having been born with “a silver spoon in his mouth,” he survived college by eating a bologna sandwich packed by his mother every day for four years. Fortunately, he liked bologna!
Upon graduation, a rich uncle (none other than Uncle Sam) gave James an all- expenses-paid trip across the world to Vietnam, where he served as a combat soldier and officer in the U.S. Army for nearly eleven months during the Vietnam War.
Two weeks after returning, with no time to rest and calm his still-jittery nerves, James began a 32-year career as an educator in Tennessee. Already the first in his family
to go to college, James went on to earn a Master’s degree and 45 additional graduate hours. He also reached Level 3, the highest level, on Governor Alexander’s Career Ladder.
He was a member of the Tennessee Education Association, a life member of both the National Education Association and the P.T.A., and a delegate to the NEA’s Representative Assembly in St. Paul, Minnesota, as well as to several TEA Representative Assemblies in Nashville. He was a member of New Hope Presbyterian Church in Knoxville before it merged with Powell Presbyterian.
Survivors include his wife of nearly 56 years, Janice Watrous; two daughters, Rebecca of San Francisco, California, and Catherine and her husband Rob of Knoxville; a granddaughter, Ella, a college student in Washington state; a brother, Royce, and his wife Jean; a niece, Ginger Fox; a nephew, Allen Watrous; and a brother-in-law, Richard, all of East Tennessee.
Private funeral services will be held at a later date for family.
Ravaged by widespread cancer and Parkinson’s disease also, James was presumably another victim of the Vietnam War and the toxic chemical, Agent Orange. Donations may be made in James’s memory to the American Cancer Society or the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.