Thomas, 95, passed away peacefully from this life in his home on May 20, 2020; with his wife of 70 years, Peggy, by his side.
Tom was born to Clayton Walter Watkins and Helen Bennett Watkins in Fort Collins, CO, on February 20, 1925. He spent his childhood in both Fort Collins and Lincoln, NE, where his father worked as the “First” Nebraska State Forester at the U of N. They returned to Fort Collins in 1940 and purchased the Fort Collins Nursery.
After graduating from Fort Collins High School in 1943, he entered into the V12 Naval program, where he studied Aeronautical Engineering at the U or MN. The V5 Pilot Training Program was opened up his senior year and he transferred as he had an interest in becoming a pilot, having received a flying certificate with his father in high school. When the war ended, he was discharged and completed his Aeronautical Engineering degree at Colorado University in December of 1946.
January 1947 he was offered a job by Boeing in Seattle. Boeing soon noticed his talent for freehand drawing and illustration and was assigned to the production illustration unit for the Stratocruiser Program, Boeings’ first post-war commercial plane.
The work environment at Boeing proved unstable during the postwar period. Tom answered an ad for a job opportunity at Sound Construction, owned by Peter Kiewit Sons and Co. (PKS). There, he was taken on as an Engineer Estimator Trainee.
On one of his first jobs at Sound Construction, he was transferred to N. Dakota, as the Assistant Project Engineer on the construction of the town site surrounding the Garrison Dam. It was there, Tom met Peggy. They married in Nebraska City, NE, Peggy’s home town, on July 9, 1949 and moved back to Seattle, starting their 70 years of marriage.
Tom became District Engineer in 1960, which took him to many bidding and troubleshooting trips throughout the Western United States, Canada, Alaska, and Hawai’i. In 1969 as Area Manager, he opened a new PKS Building Division office in the Bay Area of CA. In 1973 he returned to Seattle. Tom retired in 1981, at age 56, after almost 35 years with Peter Kiewit.
Retirement continued their journey for 40 winters in Sun City West, AZ and summers in the Seattle area until moving to Richland, WA in 2011.
Along with his drawing, Tom was a man of many interests and talents. With his wife he enjoyed golf, dancing, interior decorating, and gardening. He also loved painting and reading (especially historical books). He was well known among friends for his love of telling stories and jokes and the occasional singing while playing his Ukulele, (which may have included a Jack Daniels cocktail.) One of his songs he loved to perform was Carson Robison’s, “I’m Going Back to Whur I Come From.”
Tom and Peggy got involved in a number of social events in both WA and AZ. Tom would volunteer his drawing and artistic talents for many of these groups. He was a member of Mercer Island’s and Sun City West’s Lutheran Church, as well as the local Rotary Clubs, and the two of them were active participants at their local golf country clubs. He had a special place in his heart for charitable organizations, especially the work of the Rotary, The Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity housing projects. He was also an active member of The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, an international charitable group that helps those afflicted with leprosy and more.
Tom and Peggy went on many local and overseas adventures. In the early years they hosted several block parties and built their family summer beach cabin on Puget Sound, and in their later years explored the world to countries like Spain, France, England, Australia, South America and China, to name a few. Through their amazing shared experiences, they formed lifelong memories and fostered countless long-lasting friendships.
Tom is preceded in death by his Parents and his Sister, Louise Dyer Weber, (CO). Tom is survived by his wife, Peggy Jean Brust Watkins, (WA); sister, Caroline Shannon (CO); daughter, Christine Cronkhite and her husband Robert Cronkhite (WA); son, Clayton Frank Watkins and his wife Janice Takamine Watkins (HI); grandson, Thomas Noboru Watkins (HI); granddaughter, Christina Yukiko Watkins (MI); and 7 nieces and 3 nephews.
Tom loved God, life and his family and friends. He was a kind and giving person with integrity. He was a great husband and an awesome Dad. A true gentleman! His humor and strength will be dearly missed, but thankfully he has gone home and in the comfort of the Lord! (Back to Whur He Come From!)
A celebration of life will be held later in the year with family and friends.