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Dr. John Watson, a professor at Virginia Union University for 57 1/2 years and head tennis coach at VUU for 47 years, passed away on Friday, February 17. He was 85 years old. 


When Dr. Watson was two years old, he and his family left Greenville, South Carolina to settle in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It was there that John, his three brothers, and two sisters received their early education through the public school system in Bethlehem. 

As the years rolled by, the desire for higher education propelled John to obtain an A.B. degree from Howard University, Washington, D.C.; a Certificate of Graduate Studies from the University of Paris, France; a M.A. degree from Columbia University, New York, and a PhD. from Catholic University, Washington, D.C. 

He served in the U.S. Army during World War II from 1943 to 1946 and was present when General George Patton's forces liberated Paris. 

Dr. Watson's teaching credentials were equally impressive. Besides instructing at Howard University and Virginia State University in Petersburg, he also held the position of Professor and Chairman of the Department of Foreign Languages at Virginia Union University in Richmond, where he served for 57 1/2 years.

Watson was equally well educated in the finer aspects of tennis. Having achieved a Virginia District ranking of #6 in years past, he held rankings within the top three senior divisions of the American Tennis Association (ATA) and was a finalist in the senior division of the ATA Championships in Boston, Massachusetts. 



He was Arthur Ashe's tennis coach and is credited with turning the Richmond native into one of the world's greatest tennis players. 

The greatest personal satisfaction he enjoyed came from the positive impact that he had on so many children of all ethnic backgrounds through tennis. He served as tournament director of the Southeastern Tennis Tournament and secured hundreds of scholarships for his participants. Dr. Watson was instrumental in developing hundreds of juniors into constructive and useful citizens by encouraging them to reach their full potential. He also served as President of the Richmond Racquet Club and First Vice President of the ATA. He served as Varsity Tennis Coach at Virginia Union University for 47 years. 

In 1992, Dr. Watson was inducted into the Mid Atlantic Tennis Hall of Fame. 

Dr. Watson reflected in 1992: "Considering the number of years in which I have been involved with tennis, you can say that my life demonstrates what USTA has been stating: tennis is truly a sport for a lifetime." 


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