News last April of the unexpected death of Dr. John G. Watson, dean of the School of Business, left the campus community numb. How does the St. Bonaventure family regain composure after the death of a 35-year campus leader?
John had served as vice president for Academic Affairs, as dean of the School of Business, and as a revered faculty member. He personified the true meaning of a teacher. He was a mentor and friend, able to offer candid criticism, had your back and let you know it, and executed it all with finesse and style.
Carol Wittmeyer, a member of the School of Business faculty, can sum up her gratitude for John in one statement: “He opened doors for us. The day after I earned my MBA in 1986, I was in my office organizing my books and John Watson came in, sat down and said, ‘What do you think about getting your doctorate?’ Just knowing that he thought I could succeed and he would be there for assistance was enough motivation for me to get started and persist. He helped me all along my tumultuous journey which resulted in opportunities that I could have never imagined.”
The Watson family is a true legacy family at St. Bonaventure University. John’s wife, Suzanne, retired last year after nine years as a lecturer in the Department of Computer Science. Their son Steve is director of athletics, and their son John is a professor of marketing.
As the campus community begins recovering from this huge loss, the University has named Brian C. McAllister, hired by Dean Watson in 1977, as interim dean.
“Whether it was in the classroom or the board room, while coaching high school basketball or participating in athletic activities or athletic events, John touched an unbelievable number of people,” said McAllister.
John’s final dream was assisting with the new School of Business Campaign: $15 million for a new state-of-the-art building, and an endowment to promote and enhance business programs.
In support of this critical campaign, John traveled with the Advancement office to promote the new building and reconnect with many of his colleagues and students.
Bob Daugherty, ’77, University Trustee and chair of the campaign, knew Watson for many years and worked closely with him over the last two years.
“He stayed on in his dean’s role so we could launch the campaign for the new business building, a project he deeply cared about,” said Daugherty.
“John never liked to be in the spotlight and felt more comfortable speaking about his family, whom he loved dearly, or St. Bona’s, where he served with the deepest sense of passion and commitment. He leaves a beautiful legacy and example of what matters most in life.”
Dr. Watson, “Doc,” will be remembered by many. His family has requested that gifts in his memory can be made to the new building for the School of Business. With $9.6 million committed to the campaign, John would want to finish this in style, and we’re going to do it for him.
By Mary C. Driscoll, ’79
Vice President for University Advancement