William Russell Watts

December 13, 2020


William R. Watts, 91, passed away Sunday, December 13, 2020. He was born September 16, 1929 in Moberly, Missouri, to Charles Miller Watts and Minnie (Dent) Watts. He lived his early years on a dairy farm southeast of Moberly, moving with his family to Moberly in 1936.

William was married to Norma Jean Kamp in Moberly on September 22, 1950. A son, Dana Bruce, and a daughter, Jill Danette, were born to this union. He was a Christian and a member of Parkade Baptist Church in Columbia, Missouri.

William attended South Park School in Moberly, graduated from Moberly High School in 1948, and attended one year at what was then Moberly Junior College. He trained in engraving, jewelry repair, and watch repair. Upon completing studies at the Horological Institute at Bradley University in 1949, William was employed by the T.W. Kamp Jewelry Company in Moberly, where he worked for two years before being drafted into the U.S. Army in March 1951. Honorably discharged from the Army in March 1953, he then returned to the Kamp Jewelry Company.

In January 1956, William answered the call into the gospel ministry, enrolled in Moberly Junior College, and served a brief time as pastor of the Chariton Baptist Church west of Roanoke, Missouri. In 1957, he and his family moved to Waco, Texas, for him and his wife, Norma, to attend Baylor University. During that time in Waco, William pastored the Harris Creek Baptist Church south of Waco.

Leaving Waco, William and his family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, to attend Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. When he was called to the Cairo Baptist Church, he moved his family to Moberly and William commuted for three years to seminary.

William received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University in 1959, a Master of Divinity degree (1963) and a Doctor of Ministry degree (1975) from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

William served eleven years as the Resident Staff Chaplain of the Missouri Training Center for Men at Moberly. During that time, he served a year in Clinical Pastoral Education at the Missouri State Hospital in Fulton. He also served as the President of the Central Region of the American Association of Protestant Correctional Chaplains and as Chairman of the Constitution Committee for the National American Association of Protestant Correctional Chaplains.

Leaving the correctional chaplaincy, William pastored five years at the First Baptist Church of Salisbury, Missouri. In 2012, William authored and published a book, entitled An Unveiling: A Verse by Verse Study, Exposition and Interpretation of the Book of Revelation (Columbia, MO: Mizzou Media, University of Missouri Bookstore). Moving to Columbia in 1985, he served Emmanuel Baptist Church until his retirement from pastoral ministry in 1996.

In retirement, William was honored to preach in many churches in central Missouri, to serve some as interim pastor, and to conduct numerous funerals. William and Norma traveled across the US and Europe during retirement, making many new friends and encouraging his family.

William is survived by his wife, Norma, of Columbia; his son, Dana Bruce, of Columbia; his daughter, Jill (Watts) Richmond and her husband, John Richmond, of Denton, Texas; and three grandsons: Jeff Richmond of Tempe, Arizona, Cory Bradford-Watts of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, and Jan Bradford-Watts of Columbia; sisters Betty Skinner of Joplin, Missouri and Sharon Kay Matheny of New London, North Carolina; and other relatives and friends.

William was preceded in death by his parents and brothers, Richard Eugene and Robert Dale. William’s family remembers William as a devoted husband, father, father-in-law, and grandfather; a fiercely committed Christian; and a joyous, funny, optimistic encourager to every member of the family.

The family wishes to express their profound appreciation to the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital in Columbia for their expert, tender, respectful care for William in the last several years.

Services honoring William’s life were held graveside in the Oakland Cemetery followed by a committal prayer,Military Honors and burial. A private viewing was held at the Cater Funeral Home Chapel.


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