In Memory

John Watterson

Age 83, John Sayle Watterson, III. died Thursday, March 16, 2023 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio on November 5, 1939 (Guy Fawkes Day in the UK), he was the son of John S. Watterson, Jr., and Emily Timberlake Watterson. He is survived by his wife, Yvonne Guy Watterson of Charlottesville; twin daughters, Martha and Emily Watterson; brother, Stuart of Charlottesville; and granddaughters, Jane, Charlotte and Sydney. A brother, Wayt Timberlake (Tim) Watterson, died in 2018.

After graduating from University School in Shaker Heights, Ohio, he received his BA from the University of Virginia in 1962, an MA from Western Reserve University in 1967 and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1970, all in history. He was a member of the faculty of the University of South Dakota from 1970 to 1983. After working in Chicago, he taught history and government for University of Maryland University College from 1987 to 1991 on military bases in Korea, Germany, and Spain. Returning to Charlottesville in 1991, he taught courses, primarily in the History of Sport at Virginia Commonwealth University and James Madison University. Although trained in Early American History, he developed a second specialty in sports history, notably the history of college football. He was the author of Thomas Burke, Restless Revolutionary, College Football, History, Spectacle, Controversy, and The Games Presidents Play as well as numerous articles.

In the 1990s, he also worked in real estate for Kirtley Watterson Realtors and St. John Properties. He also was executive director of The Watterson Foundation and began a support group in Charlottesville for those afflicted with Essential Tremor, a neurological disorder from which he suffered much of his life. He was a member of The Beacon Club, North American Society of Sport History, Farmington Country Club, the Guild of Episcopal Scholars, and Christ Episcopal Church, Charlottesville, and what the members simply call "The Book Club."

John liked to play tennis, pickleball, and, as he put it, "at golf." On Mondays, he enjoyed playing with the Seniors at Meadow Creek Golf Course and for many years at Farmington Country Club. Though he had many criticisms of college football, he attended UVa games regularly, both as a student and later in the 1990s and 2000s. To those who complained about Virginia football, he liked to recall that he was a student at UVa when the teams lost twenty-eight straight and lived in Evanston, IL, when Northwestern set a national record with thirty-four consecutive losses.

The funeral services will be held on Wednesday, March 29, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church. Those who wish are encouraged to contribute to the International Essential Tremor Foundation (IETF) in Lenaxa, KS or to Christ Episcopal Church.