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Ralph V. Watts, Sr.  

Ralph V. Watts, Sr.

June 29, 1924 – December 28, 2013

Ralph V. Watts, Sr., better known as Daddy to his children and Grandfather to 105 grandchildren, died peacefully the evening of December 28, 2013, at home, surrounded by his children and grandchildren.

In order to fully grasp the driving forces in a person’s life, it is critical to place him or her into the context of the circumstances of their own journey. Ralph V. Watts, Sr., is part of The Greatest Generation. He was born in 1924 at the beginning of what would become known as The Great Depression and he lived through World War II. Key life values characterize this man: a personal relationship to Jesus Christ through which he viewed all of life, a commitment to family no matter what, common sense, a strong work ethic, a “can do” mindset, a strong sense of responsibility, integrity, generosity, and a “no whining” policy.

Born in Townsend, Delaware, he was the son of the late Vernon P. Watts and Hannah Wright Watts. A graduate of Middletown High School, he served as a bombardier in the US Army/ Air Corps during WWII. Mr. Watts married his high school sweetheart, Lauretta Eleanor George. Together they raised seven children and built a strong legacy of faith and family.

At the young age of 23, he began his lifelong career as a contractor. As owner of Watts Construction Company, he built numerous houses in Middletown, Delaware, and created the housing development, Sharondale. He started a carpenter’s apprenticeship and “graduated” the first African American carpenter in Delaware. He oversaw the building of forty-five gas stations while co-owner of Delaire Builders. In 1975 he founded a design-build contracting business, Watco, Inc., where he continued to work until present day. His meticulous workmanship can be found in the numerous churches and Christian schools he built throughout Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Mr. Watts provided jobs for untold numbers of young people who learned how to work hard, no matter how insignificant the job may have seemed to them. He was a community leader. He started the Delaware Blood Bank and was recently acknowledged for donating his rare blood type every three months for most of his life, giving a total of over 30 gallons. He helped start the National Guard in Middletown, and was very active in the Middletown Lions Club in the early years of his marriage.

Mr. Watts designed and constructed numerous buildings, but building his family and God’s Kingdom took precedence as he grew in his personal relationship to Jesus Christ. His deep faith in a personal God shaped his conviction that investing time in his family was the greatest gift he could give to his world. Over the years as he welcomed 105 grandchildren into the family, he intentionally created opportunities for the entire family to gather and create lifelong bonds. He was an active member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church for fifty-four years and served as a Ruling Elder and on numerous committees, where he earned the reputation of a problem solver. Mr. Watts is well known throughout the church community for his support of missions, both locally and worldwide.

Throughout his life, Mr. Watts presence at hundreds of children’s programs, concerts, plays, sports competitions and other activities not only encouraged his children and grandchildren to pursue excellence in their education, music studies and other creative dreams but also helped cultivate his relationships with them. He was “always there” for his family, whether locally or across the country. He helped provide the means for many of his grandchildren to pursue their education, through music lessons, providing musical instruments, and tuition assistance.

Whenever he was asked how he accomplished so much or solved what seemed like an impossible problem, he would hesitate, slowly shake his head, and with a tiny smile, say, “It’s the Lord. It has to be the Lord.”

Mr. Watts’ life is a genuine reflection of what it means to be ever growing, ever green as described in Psalm 92:12-15: The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock and there is no wickedness in him.”

During the last years of his life, he intentionally focused on “sanding” out his spiritual rough edges and as a result the sweetness of Christ in him flowed out in even deeper ways.

Mr. Watts showed his family how to live with deep faith, a love for family and a strong work ethic. In the last weeks of his life, he showed them how to die with grace, humility, and dignity. He finished well. As his family walked with him up to the edge of heaven, they knew that soon he would hear His Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, now I will put you in charge of many things.” (Matthew 25:21)

In addition to his parents, Mr. Watts was preceded in death by his lifelong wife, Eleanor, on December 28, 1998, and two brothers, Harold B. Watts and B. Franklin Watts. He is survived by his children, Ralph V. Watts, Jr. (Karen) of Hilliard, OH, Sharon W. Betters (Rev. Charles) of Bear, DE, James M. Watts (Nina) of Newark, DE. Gayle W. Voshell (the late Glenn Voshell) of Crab Orchard, KY, Bonnie W. Lewis (Robert) of Victor, ID, Jane Anne Wilson (David) of Newark, DE and Roberta W. Dosa (Col. Brian) of Harker Heights, TX and a combined total of 105 grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2 pm on Tuesday, December 31st at Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Newark, 308 Possum Park Road, Newark, DE where friends may call from 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to A Door of Hope, 218 E. Main Street, Ste. 114, Newark, DE 19711.

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Guestbook

  1. Juanita Crawford, December 30, 2013

    What a wonderful tribute to your father!!! He was a man that so many looked “up to” for wisdom and guidance. He was a gentle, quiet man, filled with wisdom. He was also willing to listen. I had one encounter with him when he was building WCS….and the computer room. I had requested that a switch to turn off the computer monitors be placed in a specific spot and it wasn’t there but quite a distance away.. After explaining my logic, the switch quickly appeared where I could reach it quickly to “grab” the attention of my class..no monitor to see and I immediately had their attention! Mr Watts has left his mark on the Christian Community in the New Castle County area and has impacted the lives of thousands. Children even just this week are learning more about this quiet, God loving, wonderful family man. He is rejoicing with Eleanor, the love of his life, in heaven. What a reunion that must have been!

    Reply
  2. Mark George, December 30, 2013

    So sorry to hear of Uncle Ralph’s passing. He is now home with Aunt Eleanor and I can only imagine what a celebration that is. May the Lord pour forth His blessings and comfort upon you at this time.
    1 Peter 5:10

    Love,
    Mark and Sharon

    Reply
  3. Dawn Scott, December 31, 2013

    I am blessed reading about “Grandfather” and his life. I enjoyed his company at every birthday party for Evelyn, Eleanor, Kristen and Rose and use the name Grandfather because they do. What a wonderful example he was to his family; a blessings to each and every one, I’m sure. Love, Dawn Scott

    Reply
  4. Carl Wolf, December 31, 2013

    I will always remember Ralph for his dedication to the to the growth of the Christian community in all aspects of his life. A gentle man who was able to bring out the best in everyone he touched. I am very Fortinuate to have known and worked with Ralph a man i will never forget .
    God Bless His Family and may they continue his tradition…………Carl

    Reply
  5. Rev. John Quigley, December 31, 2013

    Ralph was an inspiration to me as a young Deacon at EP Church in Newark, De. He continued to inspire me as I became a pastor in the EPC denomination. He was an outstanding churchman, family man and leader. His life touched many.

    With fond memories,

    John F. Quigley
    Kirkmont Presbyterian Church
    Beavercreek, Ohio

    Reply
  6. Phil and Debbie Hibbard, December 31, 2013

    Our prayers are with your family. What a tremendous impact this quiet, humble man had on his family, church, and community for The Lord Jesus Christ. We were blessed by both he and Eleanor the years we worshipped together at EP. May you all be blessed by his tremendous legacy in the years ahead. The Hibbard Family

    Reply
  7. Cindy Dilks, January 9, 2014

    I have tremendous loving memories of my Uncle Ralph. I regret that I just found out about his death today (1/9), & pray that the family members were able to be there together to remember all the wonderful things he did for them, as much as he did for my family (Dilks’s) personally. He reached out always to help us in our time of need. Thank you (Watt’s family) for all the wonderful memories and love that you display before all of the world (& us!). Cling to those wonderful times!

    Reply
  8. Barry Dilks, January 10, 2014

    We are sad to lose such a humble and faithful servant of our Lord. Although we can only imagine the celebration that took place in heaven when Uncle Ralph was reunited with those loved ones that were waiting with open arms. What a wonderful conversation he must be having with our Lord as they look back upon his journey and the many fruits of his labor. His time here has been an inspiration to all of us. We’d like to extend our condolences to all our cousins and their families.

    Love,
    Barry, Arlene, and Jack

    Reply

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