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Yale 62

Phillip Alan Watson

Born: April 7, 1940
Died: December 8, 2018

Phillip A. Watson was born in Charleston, West Virginia, son of Orris Lawrence and Beulah Louise Dumphrey Watson. He was raised in Charleston and graduated from South Charleston High School.

He was a member of Jonathan Edwards, played Freshman football (earning his numerals), and continued his football on the J. E. team. He was a member of Phi Gamma Delta. Phil was a Mechanical Engineering major, a ranking scholar, and on Dean’s list with honors.

Phil attended University of Virginia Law School and earned his J.D. in 1965 after completing a curriculum in International Law at the University of Adelaide in South Australia in 1964. He began work as an Associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in 1965, and in 1977 began a new career at The Singer Company in Stamford, Connecticut, where he became General Counsel and Senior Vice President in 1986. He traveled extensively all over the world for Singer.

After he retired from Singer he and his wife Cassandra pursued their love of travel and adventure. While living in New York City they decided to live somewhere else while their Manhattan apartment was being renovated. He described this adventure in 2002 in our Reunion Book:

We decided to go somewhere different during the projected six-month renovation period. Somehow we wound up on Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and in a weak moment signed a six- month lease on a log cabin in the woods. At the end of the lease, we bought the house and essentially never went home. The apartment renovation, of course, wound up taking a year and a half, with all the normal travails that one experiences in doing anything of consequence in New York.

Living with three dogs and five cats, twenty minutes from the ski area, with hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing out your door, is a different (and not unpleasant) experience. Most of my work is international, so I became one of the early telecommuters. With the near universality of the internet and e-mail, this has become a lot easier – although it is now possible to work around the clock if one is so disposed.

When Phil was home in Wilson, Colorado, he would break up long hours working in his home by strapping on his snowshoes and setting off with his beloved dogs, or getting in a couple of runs at the mountain, and come home to work again. He was an avid hiker, and loved mountain biking in the Tetons and on the carriage roads on Mount Desert. He always had a taste for adventure riding motorcycles through Death Valley, the Black Hills, and the streets of Paris. Scuba diving in Hawaii, Fiji, and in Palau.

He had a quiet, insightful sense of humor and a generous heart. At the encouragement of his daughter, he took an online course from the New School in playwriting, and enjoyed it so much that, after retiring from Singer, he went on to complete certificates in TV and Feature Film writing from UCLA, and received a number of screenwriting awards, including “Best Action Adventure” script at the Gotham Film Festival in 2012. He published an action adventure novel, “The Gods of Death” in 2014, set in 210 BC China, which he adapted from his original screenplay.

In addition to his wife, Cassandra Hopkins Watson, of New York and Northeast Harbor, Maine, he is survived by his son, Ian in Winchester Massachusetts, daughter, Sarah in Brooklyn, and stepdaughter, Elizabeth Denny Oneglia also in New York, and eight grandchildren.

— Bob Oliver