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TWU Professor Bill Watts establishes endowed scholarship fund

Tennessee Wesleyan University Professor Bill Watts remembers his father, Willard W. Watts, Sr. always taking time to spend time with his children. Regardless of what was happening in the world, Watts’ father put his children and family first. Watts’ father worked as a police officer, and took Watts camping one weekend, despite a major news event.

“While he was a police officer, he took time out for his family. November 22, 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated; it was a Friday,” Watts said. “We had planned to go camping that night. I see now that he would have wanted to watch the events unfolding on TV, but he took me camping. He didn’t want to disappoint me. We did a lot of camping together. We lived next to a river and did a lot of camping and fishing. My formative years were around that river and my father.”

In honor of his father and his mother, Ludie West Watts, Watts and his wife, Suzi, have established the Willard W. Watts, Sr. Criminal Justice Endowed Scholarship Fund. February 8, 2017 marked the 100th birthday of Watts’ father, who served much of his life as a police officer with the Dillon Police Department in South Carolina.

“He told me that the greatest thing he’s ever done was be a police officer,” Watts said. “That’s what he loved. He personified the motto of protect and serve.”

The fund will be used to provide scholarships to a deserving criminal justice student. Watts previously served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and was awarded a bronze star for his service. He received his Juris Doctor in law in 1985 and established the law firm of W.W. Watts and Associates in 1992. He currently serves as an associate professor of criminal justice at TWU.

During the Feb. 8 ceremony formally recognizing the endowment, TWU President Harley Knowles spoke words of appreciation and encouragement about the Watts’ gift.

“We greatly appreciate Bill and Suzi and what they are doing for Tennessee Wesleyan,” Knowles said. “I’ve seen Bill work with students and be patient and mentor, and he lights up when he is with those students. His father’s legacy lives on in him, and we are thrilled he has chosen to pass those gifts on to the next generation. Hopefully, they’ll go out and be the servant leaders we want them to be.”