The Jacksonville University community lost a beloved family member Tuesday, April 2, with the death of alumnus, Board of Trustees member, attorney and philanthropist Keith Watson.
Here is a Florida Times-Union article published Friday, April 5, celebrating Watson’s life; he died after a lengthy illness from the long-term effects of diabetes.
Watson was a two-year member of the JU tennis team and team captain in 1971. He posted a 35-13 career record and is the only JU men’s tennis player ever to participate in the NCAA Championship, losing to Jimmy Connors, who became the world’s No. 1 player. Watson was honored as an Outstanding College Athlete of America following the 1971 season and is a member of the JU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Watson and his family generously supported Jacksonville University over the years, including providing the funding that enabled JU to build the Keith Watson Family Tennis Complex.
“JU gave me a scholarship back at a time when I needed it,” Watson said at the 1997 tennis complex dedication. “I’m at a point in my life where I am able to give back to a school that holds a special place in my life. It is a thrill for me to give back to an institution that gave me a chance to do what I wanted to do in life, and I am very excited about being able to do so.”
The owner of Keith Watson Title Insurance Services and founding director of Oceanside Bank, Watson was a JU Trustee since 2006. He taught adult classes in business law and contracts at JU, and served on JU’s athletic board. He battled diabetes from his childhood and had kidney and pancreas transplants in 1998.
Also a graduate of Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville and the University of Florida law school, Watson also served on the boards for Jacksonville Country Day School and Christ Church.
Watson is survived by his wife, Carol Watson; two sons, Gordon Keith Watson Jr. and Parker Alexander Watson; brother, Bill Watson Jr.; and his sister, Claire Taylor.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 13, at Christ Episcopal, 400 San Juan Ave., Ponte Vedra Beach. After a reception at the church, burial will follow in Ponte Vedra Valley Cemetery, 4750 Palm Valley Road. Hardage-Gidden Funeral Home in Jacksonville Beach is handling the arrangements.