August 8, 1919 – December 10, 2018
Thursday, December 20, 2018
Lie In State: 2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Family Visitation: 4:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Reflection Hour: 5:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.
Funeral Service: 6:00 P.M.
Fourteenth Avenue Missionary Baptist Church
2501 Buchanan Street
Friday, December 21, 2018
Hermitage Memorial Gardens
On Monday December 10, 2018, the Nashville Public Schools desegre gation icon transition to her new home in glory, quietly and without fanfare, much like her life’s journey.
Mary Watson was born to the parents of Charlie C. and Blanche Partee Wisener on August 8, 1919, in Maury County, Tennessee. Mary Louise met and married Hugh W. Watson Sr. who proceeded her in death. From this union, five children were born.
She was preceded in death by parents, Charlie C. and Blanche Partee Wisener, and siblings Loretta Waggoneer, Hattie Klein, and Anderson and Charles Wisener.
Sis. Watson accepted Christ at an early age and was a member of Bass Street Baptist Church. In 1957, she moved her membership to the neighborhood church, which was Fourteenth Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, under the leadership of the late Reverend Felton Price.
She was an active member of the Senior Choir, Sunday School Department, Baptist Training Union, Pastor’s Guild, and the #3 Usher Board. Sis. Watson served as an usher faithfully until her health failed. She was a devoted member that supported whatever was happening at her church, whether that meant just being in attendance and/or baking those wonderful Buttermilk and Coconuts pies. She was especially fond of the Annual Male Chorus program.
Though she received a limited education in the Nashville Public School System, she became a staunch advocate of education; fighting tirelessly to support the desegregation of Nashville Public Schools in 1957. She was one of the 11 of 126 eligible families that would integrate the schools.
Despite numerous threats from her own white neighbors – that her daughter would be kidnapped and that the Watson family home would be burned, Mrs. Watson was determined to provide her daughter with the best education possible.
Mrs. Watson’s contributions to Nashville’s Civil Rights Movement were chronicled in 2009 in the late John Egerton’s article called “Walking Into History: The Beginning of School Desegregation in Nashville.” She is also enshrined in the video film, “A Child Shall Lead Them,” moderated by the late John Seigenthaler. That video is housed in the Nashville Public Library’s Civil Rights Room. Her many honors include the Prestigious Freedom Sister Award given by the Ford Motor Company in 2010. In 1957, Mrs. Watson and her husband were honored as Nashville Pioneers Citizens. This certificate of Appreciation was award by the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and signed by Harold M. Love Sr., Chairperson.
Although challenged with rearing five children and working, she was still faithful in helping her neighbors and their children, along with countless others; she would help anyone that needed her assistance. She was also a Red Cross and Mother’s March of Dime volunteer, she worked in Voter Registration Drives and the Neighborhood Watch Program, to name a few.
Her service to others truly reflected a line from one of her favorite songs, “If I Can Help Somebody As | Travel Along, then, my Living will Not be In Vain.” Sis. Watson retired from Vanderbilt Hospital (X-Ray Department.)
She leaves to cherish her memory 5 children; Leitha (Dr. Eric) Carter, Barbara Jean Watson, Hugh W. Watson Jr., Dea. Thomas (Gwen) Watson, Rev. Charles (Cathy) Watson and devoted nephew Robert (Virginia) Wisener.
Grandchildren: Terrence Smith, Richard Carter, Richard (Terressa) Rucker, Vonyetta (Greg) Watson, LaQuinta Watson, Chauncey (Brooke) Watson, Thomas (Kendra) Watson, Hugh (Erinn) Watson, Charles Jr. (Danielle) Watson, Kashif Watson.
Great-grandchildren: Devonte Brooke, Greg Brooks, Joshua Leatherwood, Ashley Leatherwood, , Kyle Carter ,Kameron Carter, Christian Carter, Malcom Swan, Christian Rucker, Amira Senter, Aniya Senter ,Tarik Smith, Jason Hunt, Trinity Rucker, Ayanna Watson, Arianna Watson, Noah Watson, Matthias Watson, Emmanuel Watson, Azari Watson, Kolby-Rose Watson, Camden Watson, and Malachi Watson.
Great-great grandchildren: G’nya Brooks, Jada Abril.
A host of nieces, nephew, relatives and friends.
She also leaves her lifelong friends Irene Smith, Lottie White, Carrie Ranson, Verlene Robinson. Mary L. Price, and Ann Bluing.