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Posted on June 1, 2015 | 9:21 a.m.

Ernest Watson of Santa Barbara, 1929-2015

Source: Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapels

Ernest Watson
Ernest Watson

Ernest Watson passed away peacefully in his sleep on May 11, 2015. He was 85 years old.

Born on Sept. 6, 1929, he grew up in Brentwood and attended Santa Monica High School. Ernie had fond memories of playing in the CIF championship football game of 1947. The Pacific Ocean was his playground and in the days of 150-pound surf boards, he and his friends pioneered surfing in Malibu.

Ernie was a veteran of the Korean War (Army Corps of Engineers). He attended the University of California at Berkley, where he joined the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and received his degree from the School of Architecture in 1955.

In that same year, he met his future wife, Deirdre O'Rourke. The couple were married in San Francisco in 1955 and moved to Santa Barbara the following year.

Ernie worked in the Engineering Department of Curtis Wright before "hanging out his shingle" to practice architecture in 1958. His 50-year practice included many local landmarks, among them the Music Academy of the West, Saint Francis Hospital, the Poor Claire's Monastery and 3 W. Carrillo St. as well as commercial properties and private residences.

He also served on local planning commissions and architectural review boards. Ernest was a member of the University Club since 1956, spending many of those years in the billiards room. He was an avid boatman and partner in a 40-foot cabin cruiser. The Bonito was a source of many great memories of trips to the Channel Islands with family and friends.

Ernest was a principled and dedicated family man who loved and took pride in his family. He is survived by his wife, Deirdre, of 60 years; sons Sean (Mary) and Michael and daughter Deirdre "Misty" Gerry, all of Santa Barbara; and grandchildren Conor and Caitlin "Caity" Watson and Matthew Gerry. He is also survived by his two younger brothers, Richard (Norma) and James.

Ernest leaves many tangible reminders of his influence as an architect in Santa Barbara. He also leaves behind family and friends, who will miss him dearly.

A celebration of Ernie's life will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 4 at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church followed by a reception at the University Club.


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