Stephen Dwain Watson, beloved son, cherished cousin, devoted friend, and child of God, departed this earthly life for his heavenly reward on June 2, 2020, at Saint Catherine’s Hospice in Waco following a short, but valiant battle with cancer. He was 59.
A graveside service will be held at the Wortham Cemetery on Saturday, June 6, at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Clint Schofield of First Presbyterian Church, Clifton, officiating. A come-and-go visitation will be held on Friday, June 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Clifton Funeral Home. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.
Steve was born on April 24, 1961, in Waco to Bennie Frank Watson and the former Ellen Catherine Tackitt. Steve’s parents waited more than ten years for their only child, and he was adored. At an early age, he developed a strong faith, determined work ethic, and deep love of family. He grew up on North 22nd Street in Waco, attending Cedar Ridge Elementary and North Junior High before graduating to Waco High. There, Steve excelled academically and was involved in a host of extracurricular endeavors including the German Club, Choir, Challenge Scholastic Team, National Honor Society, One-Act Play, Junior Historians, and school newspaper staff. He graduated high school with highest honors in 1979. Later that year, Steve pursued a double major in Greek and German at Baylor University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in December 1983. Steve subsequently attended Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, becoming an ordained Baptist minister.
Even in childhood, Steve was quick to learn and help others. His love for animals was sparked at age two with an orphaned fawn named Speck. This was the first of countless pets he brought into his fold, which included dogs, cats, horses, and birds. Steve’s love for music and singing also came early, beginning piano lessons in first grade. Ever the hungry student, he was still studying music and taking weekly organ lessons until earlier this year. He enjoyed cooking, antiques, history, political debate, gift-giving, and all things Christmas. He loved gardening and plants, spending many hours nurturing them in his homes and sharing with others. He was passionate about family, both past and present. He worked diligently to preserve the history of his ancestors and to maintain relationships with family near and far. He enjoyed trips abroad to the Holy Land and Europe visiting the village and chapel where his forefathers once lived and worshipped in Germany and Switzerland.
But it was Steve’s relationship with Christ that was the guiding force of his life. He was baptized at age 12 at North Waco Baptist Church and his faith only grew stronger through the years and sustained him during many joys and sorrows of life. As a child, he played piano in Sunday school and impressed all ages with his knowledge of scriptures and the Bible. His musical talents, knowledge of theology, and outgoing personality made him popular with area congregations. He worked with the music programs at China Spring and Smith Bend Baptist Churches. He officiated many funerals and weddings, and he played and sang in hundreds of church services, revivals, cantatas, and choirs. It was his invitation to sing at Clifton’s First Presbyterian Church Christmas cantata in 2004 that led to his final church home and a job as church musician for the past dozen years. There he has played piano, organ, sang in the chancel choir and as soloist most every Sunday and for special occasions for 15 years. While technically a baritone, friends say he was so gifted he could also sing tenor or bass as needed. Both his playing and his singing were filled with such power, range, and emotion they touched hearts and brought joy, inspiration and comfort to many thousands through the years. He taught the adult Sunday school class at First Presbyterian many years until the onset of illness last December. He continued as church musician until March, when regular worship service ended due to flu pandemic.
Steve’s work ethic began early. His first job was sweeping floors in a Waco barbershop while still in grade school. An impressed a customer there offered him more money to work in his meat market and hamburger stand. He would later find a perfect fit for his talents at the Christian-focused Good News Bookstore on 25th Street, where he worked his way through college to become their trusted music purchaser. In addition to his work with area music ministries, he also worked several years for Cargill Plantation Foods. In 2004 he was hired by Hobbs Bonded Fibers in Waco, where he would serve as Inventory Control Manager and spend the past 16 years.
Steve’s association with First Presbyterian and friendships there led to a host of civic involvement which not only enriched his life, but that of Clifton and the surrounding area. This was most notable in the Bosque Arts Center, where Steve was especially active. He was an accomplished actor and director for the Tin Building Theatre, but it was his passion for music which led to his greatest contributions at BAC. He was a charter member of the Bosque Civic Music Association in early 2009, serving as its first vice-president and a longtime board member. He is credited as the guiding force and founder of the Bosque Chorale, serving as its chairman since inception and their first presentation of Handel’s Messiah. He has been a creative influence and participant in each Chorale production since.
His love of music and performing also led to his participation in the singing group, The Grace Notes, as well as his work as an emcee and performer for numerous BAC concerts and Variety Show fundraisers, Memorial and Veteran’s Day tributes, Daughters of the American Revolution programs, leading the annual July 4th “Red, White and Proud” patriotic program for the past ten years, and performing regularly for area nursing homes.
Always the dutiful son, Steve’s devotion to his mother was especially strong following his father’s death 23 years ago. In recent years he served as caregiver while working two jobs. He was generous to share his many God-given talents whenever asked or needed. He was kind, considerate, and gifted with a natural love for others and an infectious smile and laugh that will live in the hearts and memories of family, friends, and all who loved him.
Steve was preceded in death by his father, Bennie Watson, in 1997. He leaves to cherish his memory his mother, Ellen Watson of Waco, numerous cousins and extended family, and a host of friends from work, churches, and civic organizations throughout Waco, Bosque County and beyond.
The family would like to express a special thank you to very special friends, Bryan and Julie Davis, Clint Schofield, and his church family at First Presbyterian.
The family requests memorials to the First Presbyterian Church, 211 S Ave G, Clifton, Texas 76634, or the Bosque Civic Music Association, PO Box 373, Clifton, Texas 76634.
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