Biography of Willard Dean Watkins


      Willard Dean Watkins was born in Canton, Ohio, on February 14, 1931, to Willard Merrill and Hazel Irene (Wilds) Watkins. In the latter part of the "Great Depression" when his parents were divorced, he went to live with his paternal grandparents, Aaron Sherman* and Emma Laura (Davis) Watkins, in Rushsylvania, Ohio. Emma became the driving influence in Dean's life from the second through the sixth grade. She assumed this responsibility at the age of  81. After the death of Aaron in 1941, Dean, with his father and grandmother, remained in the home until Willard's work forced a transfer to Indianapolis, IN.

      Dean's father married his second wife, Lena Fern (Smeltzer) Adams, in January 1943, and with Dean moved to Indianapolis. Dean finished grade school at School #60 and graduated from Shortridge High School in 1949. He enrolled at Butler University but was drafted into the army after his sophomore year. He spent two years in the Military Police stationed in Germany where he was responsible for maintaining the radio receiver/transmitters for the M. P. Company. After his service was completed he returned to Indianapolis where he married Diana Jean Cox in 1954. He returned to Butler University where he received a B. S. Degree in Physics in 1959.

      After a short stint at Diamond Chain Company, he went to work in the Materials Test Laboratory of Naval Avionics Center. After nineteen years as a materials engineer, he decided on a career change and went to work as a design engineer at Hughes Aircraft Company in Tucson, AZ. He retired from Hughes in 1993.  He was serving as a staff engineer at the time of his retirement.

      Dean and Diana have three children, a boy and two girls. Their children have presented them with five grand children and two great-grand children. Dean and Diana have been active members of New Testament Baptist Church for twenty years. Dean is a substitute pianist and organist and leads the congregational singing in the pastor's Sunday School Class. Diana is the interpreter for the deaf in the hearing church services and coordinates the activities for the deaf class with the hearing church. Dean and Diana will soon celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.

* Aaron Sherman Watkins was the National Prohibition Party's candidate for vice-president in 1908 and 1912, and the presidential candidate in 1920.

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