Stalwart of local clubs
THERE was a “full shop” at St Patrick’s Catholic Church, South Grafton, yesterday as family and friends said bon voyage to Bill Watt, a much-loved stalwart of the local sailing and racing communities.
Mr Watt died last Tuesday aged 84 with his family at his bedside. He had lung cancer. His wife, Marie, died in January.
A father of five – Christopher, Mark Anthony (Tony), Anne Marie, Catherine and Rhonda – Mr Watt was grandfather to 12 and great-grandfather to nine.
He was heavily involved in the racing community, but his family said yesterday even though he was known for his accurate tipping skills, he never placed a bet in nearly 70 years with the Clarence River Jockey Club.
Mr Watt’s first job was with Zuber’s barber shop in South Grafton, but was advised by his doctor to change jobs because of his asthma.
At age 14-and-a-half Bill began work at McKittrick’s general store, South Grafton, and after many years, switched to the firm’s other business, Gerards in Grafton, until retirement in 1991.
He was a department manager of the store and was later made a director.
He was a life member of both the CRJC and the Clarence River Yacht Club, and was known in yachting circles as the “old fox” for his tenacity on the water.
He was a member of the South Grafton Rugby League Club for many years.
Grafton identity Bill Dougherty, who went to St Mary’s Primary School with Mr Watt, delivered a eulogy.
“A great career, a life of service, but Bill’s two greatest loves were his wife Marie and family and his church,” Mr Dougherty said. “He was a kindly, friendly, gentle and sincere man who spread much love and goodness. A man who really made a difference.”
Mr Watt was buried yesterday with a model timber boat made by his grand-daughter Julie for him when she was at high school. Mr Watt had often bragged that Julie had beaten the boys with her skills at woodwork.