Former Division President,
Temperance Leader Watson dies
Son of missionaries visited former members
harles D. Watson, a Seventh-day Adventist youth and temperance leader in Britain who went on to serve as president of the church for the Middle East and East Africa, died at a hospice facility in Deltona, Florida, United States on May 26. He was 86.
Throughout his 47-year Adventist church career, Watson promoted healthful living in an effort to fight societal drug abuse. He also made member retention a personal goal.
“Anywhere he went he would talk to former youth society members who had left the church,” said Reg Burgess, a longtime friend. “That was his specialty. Many of them came back into the church as a result.”
TEMPERANCE PIONEER: Charles D. Watson, who died May 26 at age 86, served on many temperance and narcotic enforcement boards in the United States and England. [GC Archives photo circa 1975]
Watson was born March 22, 1923 in Kenya, the son of missionary parents from Britain. He and his brother kept pet lion cubs as kids, Burgess said.
Watson earned a business degree from England’s Devon Technical College before attending the Adventist Church’s Newbold College to earn a bachelor’s degree in theology.
He served as an evangelist in Wales and in Northern England from 1943 to 1954 and later established the British Temperance Society while serving as a departmental secretary for temperance in the church’s Northern European Division from 1954 to 1959. He also took on the role of Youth and Public Relations director.
After growing up in East Africa, Watson was drawn back to the region later in life. He served as president of the church’s Ethiopian Union Conference and later as president of the church's Afro-Mideast division, based in Beirut, Lebanon. In 1980, he came to the church’s world headquarters near Washington to serve as an associate secretary assisting the Temperance department, precursor to the church’s current Health Ministries department.
“He was an outstanding recruiter of staff for hospitals in Africa,” said Health Ministries director Allan Handysides. “He was a thoughtful and measured man; a real gentleman.”
Watson moved to Florida after his 1990 retirement. Kathleen, his wife of 62 years, survives.
-- Reported by Ansel Oliver, Assistant Director for News, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists