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Harry Edmund Watts, M.D.

Published on -1/7/2013, 9:50 AM

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Harry E. Watts, M.D., age 85, Hays, Kansas, died January 5, 2013, at Hays Medical Center.

He was born March 20, 1927, in Denver, Colorado, an only child, to the Rev. Harry and Alice (Okerstrom) Watts.

He was educated in the Denver Public Schools and graduated from the University of Denver with a B.A. degree in 1949. He was president of the Kappa Sigma social fraternity at DU, where he met his Alpha Gamma Delta blind date and future wife, Valerie I. Vannatter.

He married Valerie on June 16, 1951, at St. John's Episcopal Cathedral, Denver, Colo., with Canon Harry Watts, his father, performing the marriage service.

He entered medical school training in 1950 at the University of Colorado, Denver campus, and received his Doctor of Medicine Degree in 1954. As a medical student, he served in the medical unit of the Colorado Air National Guard. He served a rotating internship at Denver's St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital from 1954 to 1955. His first son, Harry Alan, was born at St. Luke's Hospital, on December 26, 1953.

Dr. Watts served his required Doctor Draft by joining the United States Public Health Service in 1955. He served as the Medical Officer in charge of a 50 bed hospital on the San Xavier Papago Indian Reservation outside Tucson, Arizona. He was offered the opportunity to further his public health education at Harvard Medical School, but chose to return to a patient care education. His second son, Mark Van, was born at Tucson Medical Center, on October 27, 1956.

He returned to Denver in 1957 to complete a three-year residency in ophthalmology at Colorado General Hospital, where he met Dr. Eugene T. Siler. At Dr. Siler's invitation, he moved his family, with his third son, Kenneth Lee, born June 5, 1960, to join Dr. Siler's ophthalmology practice. After 32 years of general ophthalmological practice, Dr. Watts retired on March 31, 1992.

During his years in Hays, he served as medical chief of staff at Hadley and St. Anthony Hospitals, and served for eight years on the Hays USD 489 Board of Education. He was president of the Hays Chamber of Commerce, Smoky Hill Country Club, Hays Rotary Club, and restarted the Hays AARP Chapter.

In 2007, he received the AARP Andrus Award for Kansas Volunteer of the Year. He was an active supporter of many community activities, and served as a licensed Lay Reader at St. Michael's Episcopal Church, Hays. He started the Generations Page in The Hays Daily News, and co-hosted the "Coming of Age" radio/TV program for four years with KAYS announcer Mike Cooper. He served on the Board of the Heartland Community Foundation, and the Senior Advisory Committee for the Center for Health Improvement, and represented the Seniors Community on the Hays Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee.

His father and mother lived to the ages of 96 and 95, respectively, reflecting a strong English and Swedish heritage.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Valerie, on June 12, 2007, four days before their 56th wedding anniversary.

Survivors include his three sons, Harry, Manhattan, Kansas, wife Sherry, and grandchildren Stuart and Diana; Mark, Hays, Kansas, wife Debra, and grandchildren Nicole and husband Jason Robben, Marc and wife Stephanie, and Kylee; Kenneth, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and grandchild Muriel; great-grandchildren, Haley Robben, Talyn Robben, and Grayson Watts. Also, preceded in death by great-grandson Landry Robben.

The family and acquaintances are welcome to visit with the family from 5 to 7 p.m. at Cline's Mortuary of Hays, 1919 E. 22nd, on Tuesday, January 8th.

After cremation, a celebration of life service will be at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 9th at St. Michael's Episcopal Church, Hays, with the Very Reverend Canon Jerry Jones officiating and Pastor Lesley Radius assisting. His ashes will be placed in the St. Michael's Episcopal Church's Columbarium. A reception will follow the service in the church's Fellowship Hall.

The family suggests memorial contributions to St. Michael's Church at 2900 Canal, Hays, Kansas, or Heartland Community Foundation/Senior Services in care of mortuary. Condolences can be sent via email to clinesmortuary@eaglecom.net.

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