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Thursday, March 6, 2014
“Always do your best. Never give up. Room is at the top. Be a lady. Be a gentleman.”
That was Dr. W.G. “Curly” Watson’s creed. It exemplified everything the University Health Care System was looking for when handing out the first “Curly” Awards on Tuesday night at the North Augusta Municipal Building.
The first award winners were Drs. William E. Barfield Jr. and Michel M. McDonough. The master of ceremonies was Mayor Lark Jones, who said the awards were important to the Watson Family, University Hospital and the City of North Augusta.
“Dr. Watson wasn’t really a complex man; he was a simple, hardworking man,” Jones said. “He served his country. He served his God. He served his patients. He served his community. ... He was a man of service, kind words and we are here to honor his legacy.”
Laurie Ott, president of the University Health Care Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of University Hospital, pointed out the event fell on the same date as what would have been Watson’s 104th birthday. Watson passed away on October 24, 2012.
“For many at University, it is hard to believe Papa Doc is no longer with us,” she said. “With a career that spanned decades encompassing generations of delivering babies, and their babies, and their babies’ babies, the loss of Dr. Watson is still felt by all of us. As much as we feel the loss of Dr. Watson, we are grateful for the 64 years he served patients and their families at University Hospital. We are also so thankful to Mrs. Audrey Watson and their five children for allowing their patriarch, Papa Doc, to be ours also.”
Upon accepting the award, Barfield said Watson was important to him and even being considered for the award was “amazing.”
“I don’t know who made the decision, but thank you,” he said. “I will do everything to live for what he did. I knew Dr. Watson as a boy because my dad was at University Hospital from 1950 to the 1990s. I was 26 and he was 60 when I did my residency, but we shared a common bond. We were both Citadel grads; I was ’66, he was ’31. That relationship was amazing, and I truly loved him. One of the greatest experiences for me was driving him to The Citadel CSRA groups, and he would ride along and tell you everything. Whenever you got to spend time with him it was amazing. He always got to the University at 6:30 (in the morning) and had breakfast. Many folks would hurry down there to listen to him and his wisdom.”
McDonough said 20 years ago he received The Watson Award as a resident.
“I was looking at the inscription on that (and) it said, ‘For performance beyond the expected and promise for continued growth,’” he said. “That right there is the example that Dr. Watson wanted to portray. ... Dr. Watson was always a patient advocate. I think that’s the one thing we should always be – we have to be there for our patients. For sure Dr. Watson was that, and I’ll try to live up to his example.”
Jones concluded the evening by saying that Watson was an example for his church, community and family.
“I think all of us here know his legacy will still have an effect on our community after every one of us are gone,” he said.
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at The North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @NAStarRodgers.