John Graham Watts, born May 2, 1929, left this life and entered into God’s rest on Jan. 12, 2015.
Words on a page can hardly capture John’s impact and legacy. John was born in Evanston, Ill., and spent his early years in Chicago, Chile and Southern California. He spent his teen years in Virginia, Southern California and Montana, working on his brother-in-law’s ranch; he was proud to be a cowboy and a close friend to many in the Crow Nation.
During the Korean War, he served as a Navy corpsman in San Diego. He met the love of his life, Patricia Hendrickson, in 1950; she was a junior in high school and he a 21-year-old sailor! She introduced him to the one that changed his life forever — Jesus Christ. They were married on Oct. 4, 1952, and were inseparable. Together they raised three children as they moved from being students at Grace College and Seminary, to pastoring a church together, to different ministry roles with The Navigators and finally to Westmont College, where they worked together in the office of College Advancement.
John was one of the nation’s foremost authorities on Planned Giving for nonprofit organizations. He wrote, consulted and taught extensively on the subject while serving on the faculty of the National Planned Giving Institute at The College of William and Mary.
John dedicated his life to serving others. He loved his family passionately. He served his friends deeply and took the initiative to make new friends daily. Known as “Watt Dad” to so many of his “kids,” he always made it a point to encourage and pray for them. He loved sharing his passion for sports (Westmont Warriors, Broncos, Dodgers, USC), his kids and grandkids, fishing, the forests and mountains. Oh, and his sense of humor! He was mischievous and loved good practical jokes and hilarious stories. He was always the life of the party.
Our hearts are broken for our loss but joyful because he is with our Lord. He leaves behind his wife of 62 years, Patty; son and daughter-in-law Bruce Watts and Jennifer Boteilho; daughter and son-in-law Kathi and Dan Walker; daughter and son-in-law Vicki and Richard Cope; 10 grandchildren, Hanna (fiancé Cody), Carisa (husband Ryan), Brandon, Gloria, Hannah, Kira, Isaiah, Rebekah, Noah and Johnny; his sister, Henny Davies; and several nieces and nephews. Our lives are forever changed and blessed by his imprint on our lives.
Here’s what John called his “top 10 discoveries about life”:
» 1. Realizing my need for a vine-branch relationship with Jesus.
» 2. Developing and maintaining a built-in devotional relationship with Jesus.
» 3. Accepting the sovereignty of God in the events of my life.
» 4. Trusting God in everything.
» 5. Recognizing the worth and significance of every individual.
» 6. Cultivating meaningful personal relationships with others.
» 7. Learning to communicate effectively.
» 8. Allowing emotion and creativity in my life.
» 9. Continuing the learning process (always being a student).
» 10. Maintaining a commitment to integrity.
A service to celebrate his life is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24 at Santa Barbara Community Church. Donations in John’s honor may be made to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, Westmont College or Mount Hermon.