University Hospital Mourns the Passing of Legendary Dr. Watson
“Dr. W.G. Watson, a legendary figure in the history of University Health Care System, passed away Oct. 24 leaving behind a wonderful family, friends and more than 15,000 lives that he brought into this world. Dr. Watson was a great man and wonderful physician who dedicated his life to the service of others. For many years, he walked the hallways of our hospital tending to patients and rounding on the staff to ensure they were doing well. He was truly respected as the leader of our OB/Gyn Department where he led our physicians to become the market-leading provider of these services. Something I truly admired was his humility. We will all certainly miss Dr. Watson’s physical presence here at University, but he will live on in our memories and the culture of our organization. Often he would in his own simple way sum up what I believe our mission here at University is: “Service and Kind Words.” We will honor Dr. Watson and continue to dedicate our lives to the service of others, maintaining a humble spirit and providing Service and Kind Words to those who seek care from University. Please keep the Watson family in your thoughts and prayers.”
– James Davis, President/CEO of University Health Care System
Walter Gamewell Watson, M.D.
Former Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital, Augusta, Ga.
Born: Feb. 25, 1910, Ridge Spring, S.C.
Family: wife, Audrey; four daughters and one son
Education and training:
Bachelor of Science – The Citadel, Charleston, S.C. (1931)
Medical School - Medical College of Georgia (1943)
Internship - University Hospital-Augusta
Residency - University Hospital-Augusta
Specialty Board Certifications - Obstetrics & Gynecology
· Delivered more than 15,000 babies
· Oldest living graduate of The Citadel
· Named the Georgia Hospital Association 2010 “Hospital Hero”
· On his 100 th birthday, recognized as the oldest known working physician in the United States
· Namesake of University Hospital’s W.G. Watson, M.D.
Women’s Center dedicated in 1999
One of three children, this only son of a farmer/postmaster and school teacher was born in 1910 in Ridge Spring, S.C. As a young man, he milked cows, plowed fields and studied agriculture under the legendary South Carolina statesman Strom Thurmond, who was then a teacher. After high school, Dr. Watson attended The Citadel, where he played football and excelled academically. At the age of just 22, Dr. Watson became principal and football coach at Edgefield High School. He worked as an educator for seven years, saving the money to attend medical school. After serving as a U.S. Army physician from 1945 to 1947, Dr. Watson came to Augusta and joined the medical practice established by the late J.W. Thurmond, M.D.
During the more than 60 years Dr. Watson practiced at University Hospital, he ushered more than 15,000 babies into the world, including two of his fellow physicians. At the height of his career in the 1950s and 1960s, Dr. Watson was delivering as many as 60 babies a month. He is a local celebrity, having delivered at least three generations of many families in the CSRA.
Up until two years ago, Dr. Watson arose at 6.45 a.m. every day and headed to University Hospital where he ate breakfast in the hospital cafeteria with some of his colleagues, rounded on patients and then settled into his office by 8:30 a.m. to see his scheduled patients.
It sounds like another ordinary day in the life of a hospital physician, except that Dr. Watson at 100 years old was the oldest working doctor in the United States.
The hospital honored Dr. Watson by naming its women's center after him. Visitors and patients there see a bronze statue of him cradling a newborn.
He witnessed many advances in medical technology in his time, but always insisted that, "New technologies are amazing and absolutely necessary for taking care of patients, but without the human touch, they don't mean much."
Work, family, church and community were the foundations in his life, he said. Dr. Watson created a creed that he shared with many: "Always do your best. Never give up. Room is at the top. Be a lady. Be a gentleman."
Dr. Watson’s life was eulogized and celebrated on Oct. 27 at the church he served for many years, Grace United Methodist Church in North Augusta, S.C., with standing room only. He was buried at nearby Pineview Memorial Park.
Godspeed, Papa Doc. Your rest is well deserved.