Watty also was an avid follower of politics. During last year's presidential campaign, we would have almost weekly talks on the status of the race and the projected outcome. Watty's political mind was savvy and his insight and knowledge of political events (local, state and federal) was always fascinating and keen. Interestingly enough, as a young man, Watty actually ran against one George C. Wallace for a Democratic Party Delegate Seat, only to lose to the future four-time governor by a little over 100 votes. I would always joke with Uncle Watty that history for my state would have been very different had he defeated Wallace in that early election. Watty would laugh. (Update: My info here needs to researched a bit more for accuracy)
Perhaps the most fascinating story about Uncle Watty was how he met and had dinner (on a few occasions even) with the notorious mob boss, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, who owned a hotel and other establishments in Italy. Watty served in the US Navy and was stationed in Southern Italy in 1952, when he met Lucky. Here's part one and here's part two of that captivating tale.
Watty was born and raised in Headland, Alabama. He also lived in Birmingham, AL, Tuscaloosa, AL, Lexington, KY, New York City, NY and Panama City, FL. In 1985 he moved back to his hometown and lived there until his death. During my time in the bank, from 1995-2000, he and I grew very close. From him, I gained a strong interest in my family's history. I will never forget our coffees and meals in Dothan and our late night chats at his house in Headland. Uncle Watty will surely be missed by me.
When two friends of mine from the Pacific Northwest visited the Deep South for the first time (1998), I made sure they could meet Uncle Watty. We met over lunch at Morrison's in Dothan. I knew Watty could give them a better understanding of the South than anybody. I remember Watty saying, "It (the South) will grow on you."
For more of Watty's life and work, click here.