1/14/16 School board mainstay dead at 88

School board mainstay dead at 88
By Isaac Groves, The Times-News 1/14/16     
Reprinted with permission.


   At 88, Jack Watts had not been in the news much recently when he died last week, but in 27 years on the city’s school board and acting as the first chair of the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education, Watts helped guide local schools through integration and merger.

   “He was a great guy, first of all; I never heard anyone speak ill of Jack Watts,” current school board Chair Steve Van Pelt said. “He was well thought of. He was a people person, always interested in peoples’ families and how they were doing. On the other hand, he had he had a very good reputation in his chosen field of pharmacy.”

   Watts was appointed to the board for the old Burlington City Schools in 1969. After the city and county school districts merged, he stayed on as chair until losing his first election in 1998.

   “He was always there when people needed him, and he took his job as a member of the school board very seriously,” retired city schools principal Nancy Toney said. “I cannot tell you what he meant to this community.”

   Originally from Tabor City, Watts came to Burlington in 1959. He was trained as a pharmacist at the University of South Carolina.

   Watts and his wife Eloise Watts had two children. He got involved with the parent-teacher association at Forest Hills Elementary School. The city tended to appoint PTA leaders to the city’s school board, Toney said, and that is how Watts got onto the board.

   He worked for Eli Lilly and Co. for 31 years, but kept himself busy after retirement.

   “He looked for things to do to help people, to serve,” Toney said.

   Among those, she remembered, was going to the Presbyterian Home of Hawfields to give residents advice about drug interactions. He gave the same kind of advice to callers on a local radio show, and he worked at Medical Village Apothecary every Saturday.

   “I knew him when he was a salesman,” said W.S. Gardner the store’s owner. “After he retired, he would come around, and I finally talked him into helping me out.”

   Heavily involved with professional associations and schools of pharmacy, Watts stayed current on issues in the industry, especially legal issues, Gardner said.

   “You could ask him almost anything, and he would give you an answer,” Garner said. “Anything about pharmacy, he was up on it.”

   Watts was active also with the Kiwanis Club, First Baptist Church of Burlington, where he was a deacon, and organizations like Alamance County Diabetic Association.

   “He was a leader everywhere he was; he was a leader in Kiwanis, he was a leader in the church, he was a leader in the medical community,” Toney said. “I was just happy to be one of his friends.”