Shirley's Life


Shirley Watson

·         Born Sept 3rd 1934 at her grandparents house near Dalton Nebraska

·         Grew up on the family farm near the town of Broadwater Nebraska (population 344)

Dorene and Lorene - her sisters remember

We were raised on a farm six miles from Broadwater, Nebraska. We were told that when Shirley was about four, she wanted to run away from home, but she couldn't get the yard gate open. She stood there and screamed at her folks to open the gate until she gave up and decided to go back into the house. She would say to her folks when things didn't go her way, "When you get little and I get big, then I will be the boss!"

·         She went to small schoolhouse in town. She sat behind a boy named Bob Watson in study hall during high school. He used to turn around and give her a bad time.

·        She graduated High School with 11 other kids from Broadwater in 1951

·         After High school Bob asked her out on a date. They married in December of 1953

·         She went to College at Kearney State College in Kearney Nebraska and got a certificate to teach grade school. She taught for three years at a one room rural schoolhouse.

·        She left teaching to join her husband Bob overseas in Germany where he was stationed for the Air force.

·        While in Germany they had their first of 5 children Jim. April 1955

·         They moved back to the United States and Ron was born in Bridgeport Nebraska in May of 1956

·        Sharon was born in February of 1959 in Bridgeport

·         She and Bob moved because of Bob's work to Ogallala Nebraska where Brad was born January 1960

·        They moved to Scottsbluff Nebraska while Bob worked on a cattle feed lot.

Mike was born May of 1962

·         They moved back to Broadwater where they worked and lived on the grounds of a fish hatchery.

·         She and her family moved to Renton Washington in 1966 during one of Boeing's big hiring booms.

·         Shirley took care of the house, skinned knees, mumps, chicken pox and a baseball bat to Ron's mouth. (not by her) She pushed the kids off to school every day until they finally graduated High School.

From Pat McKimmey - long time neighbor and friend

I met Shirley 45 years ago as I was walking two of my children to school. She had just moved from Nebraska and rented a little house around the corner from us. When our next door neighbors decided to sell, we told the Watsons about it and they became our new neighbors. Life was never dull with her 5 and our 4 kids.

We often had coffee or tea in the mornings after they were off to school. There were lots of card games, camping trips and just many great times. It continued after the kids were grown as we all decided Arizona would be a great place to spend our winters. There we always had Sunday breakfast together and many holidays. We will certainly miss her but her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids will always be like family to us.

·         Because of no more kids sporting events she and Bob started bowling for entertainment. They joined the Renton Eagles and were involved with the travel club and bowling leagues.

From Jim Watson - oldest son

I can remember my grandpa Chorn telling me as a little boy, “A person can never have enough friends". My mom lived by that motto. Everyone she met was her friend. I have friends that I have had since high school that she kept in touch with all these years. In that respect I have taken after her. Ronda and I bowled with Mom and Dad, and whenever it was her turn to bowl we had to find her to tell her it was her turn. She would be all the way across the bowling alley chatting with friends. We were always the last ones to leave.

• She worked many years before retiring from Boeing.

Dorene and Lorene - sisters

When Shirley planned Bob's retirement party she had friends and relatives fly in from everywhere and she and the kids bought Bob golf clubs. Later that year when her birthday came around Bob gave her a set of dominoes, (no cake, no ice cream, and no card ... nothing .... just Dominoes) She was so mad that she ordered herself flowers to be delivered to her every month for the whole year and signed his name to them. When the first set of flowers came, Bob wondered who they were from..... so she told him. He then planned a party for her.

·        During retirement she and Bob would share their time between Renton and Apache Junction Arizona.

·         Shirley has always been a pet lover. She has had several pets thought the years.

From Dora Watson - Brad's wife

The story I like to remember about Shirley is every morning when her dogs Coco and Charlie were alive, she would pick each one of them up, take them to the front window and say, "Good morning world!" Charlie would protest, but we all think he really liked it. Her Toby dog will miss her daily walks.

From Ron- Son

One of my favorite memories I have of mother is when our first child was born. We were living out of state, and it was her first grandchild.

Jim and Ronda were getting married when the baby was less than a month old, so instead of coming to see the baby, she waited until we came to Washington for the wedding, but it was really tough for her to wait.

It was also October, so I bought one of those rubber masks that look like an adult's face was half melted. I put it over the baby (it covered her entire body) and covered her with a blanket as we stepped off of the plane.

She was unable to control herself and ran to see the baby, she passed my wife and grabbed the blanket and pulled it back to look. When she saw a half melted man instead of a baby, she was so shocked! She let out a scream and immediately put the blanket back over her.


From Brad - Son


I remember that Mom was so concerned that she needed to be fair to all of us kids or grandkids that if for Christmas she gave Jim or Ron a gift that cost a $1.90 more than mine. She would make up for it by putting an envelope on the Christmas tree with my name on it and inside of that envelope would be $1.90. Unless it was a really big present for me and then it would have a note saying "for Christmas and Birthday".



From Bobbi - granddaughter

I always got a kick out of how every visit that I saw grandma she always recited her cheer from her high school in Nebraska. I'm sure someone knows that actual cheer, the only part I can remember is (hoot, hooray, ........ wahoo). She would then say it to my kids when they were babies and bounce them on her lap.

Another good memory I will always have of grandma is how much she liked typewriters and then computers. She used to type addresses on a piece of paper and then cut it out and glue it on the envelope in the letter or birthday card she would send. And around her house you would often see everything labeled with the typewriter or computer. And then she would love to check her email. She would visit us and use her dial up internet which was ridiculously slow and wait and wait for her email to load. She got more emails then anyone I had ever seen! She loved getting emails from everyone; she was a social butterfly on the computer. She would often pass on jokes or pictures of others. This is the way we communicated. I have several emails on my account from her just asking how I was doing and telling me what she and grandpa had been up to. I will miss that!




 From Sharon Reynolds - daughter



Mom liked to make everyone feel special, especially on their birthday. She would call and sing happy birthday. She liked to leave it on voicemail. Since Travis' birthday is April fool's Day, one year she thought it would be funny to call the whole family and sing to them, and then say, "This is for Travis". If the phone was answered, she would say, "Hang up and don't answer the phone when I call back." One year when she called Jim he kept answering the phone when she called.

She was upset this year that she missed so many birthdays while she was so ill. She had Brad call Jared while he was visiting so she could sing on his birthday.


From Mike - Son


When Ron and Jim were starting to play little league football for the Renton Lyons we didn't have much money. She and Dad went to the store to buy cleats and she was shocked at how expensive they were. She said "since one plays on offense and the other on defense, can't we buy just one pair and they can trade off?"



From Travis – Grandson


I remember every family meeting Grandma would have a special red plate for anyone who had a birthday around that gathering. I remember being jealous because every year they went down to Arizona for the spring and winter so I tried to sneak a red plate with all of the other family whose birthday she missed and every time being scolded because it wasn't our turn for a red plate.

Another memory I have is of that time around Bobbi’s wedding when all of us as a family went to the water park. I remember grandma flying down the raft ride and somewhere along the way she lost her glasses because of the waves. Soon after all of us were shooting up and down on tubes or sliding without searching for her glasses that she had lost on that ride. Man, we are all sun burnt so badly after that day for the wedding.



From Kayla Reynolds - Grand daughter

Grandma would always come and watch my softball games. You knew that they were back from Arizona when they came to my softball games at the end of March. I also remember the thimble game and every Halloween having cider and with dry ice.

From Jim Watson - oldest son

One year we were in Nebraska for my Grandma Chorn's birthday and we used this little hall for cooking and meals so we could be together. There was a plastic bag on the counter all week and people kept moving it around so I finally looked in the bag and it was a very large pair of men's underwear. So I had Sharon put the bag in Mom's suitcase. My next birthday I got a huge pair of men's underwear wrapped in my present. So I would hide them in the motor home someplace in the silverware drawer or the refrigerator. We had a good time giving them back and forth over the years. Her concern though, was that a very large man in Broadwater was running around "commando"!

From Randa Watson- Granddaughter

My grandmother was an amazing, caring, loving person.  Everywhere she went she knew someone or made a new friend.  Every time I’d visit she’d greet me with a smile and a hug.  One thing is for certain, she adored us grandkids.  And the truth is, we adored her more!  She loved having a house full of people, where she would cook us a meal and stand back and look at all of us together and smile.  Grandma would also set aside one-on-one time with each of us.  Whether it would be meeting me for lunch on my break from work, or asking “how are things going?” when I’d stop by to borrow something.  She didn’t care if it was only for 15 minutes; as long as we had a visit she cherished it, as did I.  There are so many memories that I have of her: From Jared and I staying the night when we were little, or helping make popcorn in the popcorn maker and watching a movie, or Grandma helping us learn fractions by cutting up a pizza.  I am very grateful that I have so many memories.  She was always there for each of us.  She has stood by and supported my family as my mother recovers from a stroke.  She’s been there every step of the way and I don’t know how we would’ve done it without her.  I know that she’s watching over all of us now and smiling.  She’s so proud of each of us, and I know we will strive to continue to make her proud each day.  I love you Grandma!

From Ronda Watson- (Jim’s wife, read by Jacki Watson)

You’d think that knowing a person for 29 years would make it easy to talk about them.  I find it hard to talk about Shirley because she was such a wonderful person.  She was thoughtful, caring, loving, and so many other things.

She took me and my family in when I came out of the hospital.  She encouraged me every day.  We had a routine: every morning we’d sit around the kitchen table and we took turns taking our blood pressure.  I usually went first, and Bob went second.  The rule was not to make me laugh, because my breakfast would come back up my feeding tube.  However, one morning during breakfast Shirley went outside to get these ears of corn that had been husked.  She was taking them out of the bag to clean them when she found a slug.  She quickly took it and threw it down the garbage disposal and turned it on.  When she explained to us what she had done, I tried my hardest not to laugh but when I looked at Jim and Bob we all started laughing.  My stroke has made me unable to control my laughter, so I laughed and laughed.  I ended up spilling my breakfast everywhere.  Surprisingly (and a good thing too) Ray Roberts showed up later that day to put a new garbage disposal in.

People talk about their in-laws all the time.  I can’t talk bad about mine.  We’ve had a few differences, but I love my mother-in-law as much as I possibly can.  She was the most caring mother-in-law, grandmother, mother and person there ever was.  I will miss her a lot.  I love you Shirley.

From Jacki Watson- Granddaughter


Shirley Watson was an amazing person.  She was so caring and so thoughtful.  One memory I have of her is of the summer that I spent with her and Grandpa.  The summer before I got my license I had a job working at a day camp for the City of Renton, but I needed a ride because both of my parents would already be at work by the time I was supposed to start.  Grandma stepped in and offered to take me to work every morning.  So my mom would drop my off at Grandma and Grandpa’s, Grandma would fix all three of us breakfast, and then she would take me to work but not before we chatted a little bit.  Grandma LOVED to talk.  Every morning she would pester me for details about school, boys, friends, everything.  In a way that only a grandma could do.  Grandma always HAD to know what was going on in your life.  And she knew that if she didn’t ask me, I wasn’t going to tell her.  So she’d always dig it out of me.  She really took an interest in what was going on with not just my life, but everyone’s.  She’d always have news from other family members and she’d share it with me those mornings.  It was important to her to stay up to date on what was going on in our lives, and she was really good at it too.

Something that she was not so good at, technology.  Another purpose of my visits in the morning was usually to help her with something on the computer.  Even after that summer I would still get calls, which I’m sure many other people in this room used to receive too, about how to do something on the computer or more recently about Facebook.  I remember the day when I got a friend request from grandma and thought “oh no.  Is there something on my page that grandma wouldn’t want to see?”  Well of course there wasn’t.  I just had to make sure though!  It was a little weird teaching my grandma how to navigate around a website that my friends and I use to communicate, but it was just that.  Another way for her to stay in touch with her friends and family.  She did such a great job at that.

Another thing she was good at, loving.  She had a HUGE heart.  She loved so many people unconditionally.  She was warm and caring.  When my mom had her stroke I was only sixteen and grandma took us in and helped us get back on our feet.  She surrounded us with love and held our hands through some really rough times.  I don’t know what we would have done without her.

Thank you Grandma, for being an amazing role model, for loving me and my family with your whole heart, and for being the best grandma any one could have asked for.  I miss you, and I love you Grandma.