DUNN — Jerry Richard Watkins, age 88, passed away on Thursday, June 20, 2019 at Betsy Johnson Hospital.
He was born on Nov. 16, 1930, in Johnston County to the late Albert Franklin Watkins and the late Retha Mae Massingill Watkins. Jerry married the love of his life, Joyce Kay West Watkins on Feb. 29, 1968, and they shared 51 wonderful years of marriage together before she preceded him in death. They fell in love during a time when things were much simpler and the love that you had for your spouse was enough to ensure that you didn’t part till death. On Jan. 12, 1975, one son, Terry Richard Watkins, was born unto this union. When Jerry was asked about how he met his Joyce, he said they met at a Shell Station in the ’60s where he worked and she had visited with her twin sister. Jerry and Joyce were always on the go, visiting family, taking trips or just spending a summer’s eve on a family watermelon farm. It didn’t matter where they were, together was enough.
Jerry was raised in a time when the world turned a little slower, and that is something passed on to his son and grandchildren. When most children required the latest video game or electronic gadget, Jerry would entertain his grandchildren for hours with the old-fashioned walkie-talkies; the ones he made with two Campbell soup cans and some string or a simple toy made out of strips of wood from an old fat lighter stump.
Toolbelt Jerry, as he was known, could fix anything. Anytime something broke, his granddaughter, Hunter, would always say “Don’t worry, with some JB Weld, Poppy can fix it!” He always could see the potential in anything. You had to watch him, if he was helping you haul off some junk to the junkyard, you may come back with more than you took! You and I might see an old piece of junk and discard it, haul it away to a landfill somewhere, but Jerry would take two or three pieces of junk and turn it into some new toy for the kids to play with. He and Joyce also loved to take old furniture, and lovingly restore the wood and reupholster the fabric and when they were finished, it was better than anything you’d find in the furniture store.
Jerry valued family above all else. Terry recalls the many fishing trips his dad and he had taken down to the pond. He also reminisces about the Sundays they would spend together watching “The Three Stooges” or “Tom and Jerry.” Then they’d pile up in the car and go for a Sunday drive, which often ended with a trip to the Tastee Freeze for ice cream. Terry remembers what a hard working man his dad was. Jerry retired from the Dunn Housing Authority after 23 years of service and even after retirement, many of the tenants would call his home and ask him to fix things in their home. Jerry was a veteran of the United States Air Force, having served faithful for over 10 years during the Korean Conflict.
Jerry leaves behind to cherish his memory, his son, Terry Watkins and wife Kristie of Dunn; grandson, Cameron Watkins of Dunn; and his brother, Larry Watkins of Dunn.
In addition to his parents and wife, he was also preceded in death by his granddaughter, Hunter Kay Watkins.
Friends were cordially invited to a visitation with the family from 2 until 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 23, 2019, in the chapel of Cromartie-Miller Funeral Home, where a celebration of his life commenced at 3 p.m. with the Rev. Phil Newton presiding. He was laid to rest in Harnett Devotional Gardens with Johnny Jernigan, Jonathan Jernigan, John Jernigan, Dishon Allen, TJ Stone and Steve Summerland serving as pallbearers. Full military honors were rendered by American Legion Post 109 and VFW Post 6767.
The family will also receive friends at other times at the home of Tom and Martha Wrenn, 2343 Hobson Road, Dunn, NC 28334.
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions may be made in Jerry’s memorial to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.
All arrangements are entrusted to Cromartie-Miller Funeral Home. Online condolences may be expressed at www.cromartiemiller.com.