A Mass of Christian Burial for Lester "Buddy" Watson will be 10 a.m., Thursday, May 12, 2016. A prayer service will be held Wednesday evening at 7:00, with both services being hosted by St. Cecilia Catholic Church. Buddy will be laid to rest in Woodlawn Cemetery.
He passed away Saturday, May 7, 2016 at Clarehouse in Tulsa. He was 67. Arrangements have been entrusted to Rice Funeral Service. Friends may visit at the funeral home on Wednesday from noon until 5 p.m.
Born June 18, 1948 in Tulsa, Okla. to Lester W. and Claudia (Nelson) Watson, Buddy was reared and educated in the community of Claremore.
It was around the age of four, when Buddy's mother began to notice a pattern with her son and music.
After several occasions of playing the window sill, as if it were a piano, Buddy began piano lessons. This was merely the beginning of a life-long passion and commitment to the fine art of both instrumental and vocal music.
In the beginning, Buddy accompanied his sisters as they acted out plays in their home. As he grew older, he furthered his musicianship as he entered the school's vocal and band programs.
Buddy's specialty, and the gift that took him from Claremore High School's class of 1966 to Oklahoma State University (OSU), on a music scholarship, was playing the musical instrument, the oboe.
He attained a Bachelor's in Instrumental Music Education from OSU. Upon completion of this degree, he returned to Claremore where he began a career in music education at Claremore High School. He directed both the choir and band his first year, but narrowed his focus and skill to directing vocal students in the choir program for the rest of his career. His tenure at Claremore spanned 17 years, from 1970 to 1987. Simultaneously, he furthered his education as he received a Master's in Vocal Music Education from the University of Tulsa in 1978.
Buddy even had credit toward a degree in Educational Administration, but knew he would be much happier in his role as vocal teacher and choir director.
From Claremore HS, Buddy spent a couple of years in the musical department at then, Rogers State College. It was not long until he returned to teaching and directing high school students.
This time he had a ten year tenure at Sapulpa High School, from 1990 to 2000, before retiring from the public school system.
During his time at both Claremore and Sapulpa, Buddy led numerous soloists, ensemble groups and choirs to outstanding achievements. On multiple occasions his choir members were invited to perform at prestigious, out of state musical festivals. In addition, many of his district and state competitions resulted in sweepstakes winnings or superior marks in every area judged. More than any award, medal or achievement, Buddy was most proud to be available to each and every student — many viewing him as a father figure, mentor and friend.
Although his musical achievements were great, Buddy's marriage and his family were his greatest achievements. He married Paula Oldham on May 28, 1977. He was a devoted husband, father and poppa. He was well known for giving special pet names to his family members. And he always encouraged them to do their best and never give up!
A contributor to his family and to his students, Buddy was also a contributor to the various communities to which he belonged. He led the Claremore Community Chorus for many years. He also participated in the Claremore Chamber of Commerce's Gridiron, during their annual banquet. He sang in the Tulsa Opera Chorus. He helped not only his own church but also multiple area congregations with their music programs through the years.
He was also Past President and Director of the Northeast Oklahoma Choral Directors Association and was often an adjudicator for numerous vocal music competitions throughout Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas.
Although he had battled kidney failure for most of his life, Buddy did not let that keep him from doing what he loved. Even after retirement from the public school system, he continued to teach in private schools. He taught and directed at Holland Hall in Tulsa and was currently employed at Marquette Catholic School, Tulsa. A recipient of two kidney transplants, Buddy's family would like to thank the family members and donors who made it possible for his life to span well beyond what would have been possible otherwise. To honor Buddy and to potentially save or extend someone's life, his family would encourage each of you to consider organ donation.
Buddy Watson's life was one of giving of himself in service to others, of sharing his abundant God given talents and of his unwavering devotion to his faith, his family and his friends.
He leaves each life he touched better. And those who will carry on his legacy and continue his life song are his wife of nearly 40 years, Paula Watson; daughter, Victoria Lauser and her husband, Chris; son, Blake Watson; grandson, Collin Lauser all of Claremore; sisters: Betty Ann Luther also of Claremore, Janice Harbich and husband, James of Columbus, Texas and Pamela Bogue and husband, Otis of Anchorage, Alaska.
He is also survived by his mother-in-law, Betty Oldham of Claremore; sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law: Madolyn LaMonica and husband, Michael of Midland, Texas; Edward Oldham and wife, Caroline of Mansfield, Texas; Mary O'Dell of Claremore; Kenneth H. Oldham of Arlington, Texas and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives, students and friends.
He was preceded in death by: his parents; paternal grandmother, Alice Watson Dennis; maternal grandmother, Olive Lyttle; Godson and great nephew, Anthony Brittan Leuellen and a great niece, Poppy Quinn LaMonica.
The family suggests donations in Buddy's memory be made to: Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma, 200 S. Lynn Riggs Blvd., Claremore, OK 74017 or to the Clarehouse, 7617 S. Mingo Rd., Tulsa, OK 74133.
Published on May 9, 2016