Jeff Watson made his final putt for birdie on March 31, 2020. But not before he shared a two-month-long goodbye kiss with his Little Woman, Marla Rae.
Born June 9, 1952, to Harry and Genevieve Watson, in Eureka, California, Jeffrey Aven Watson was destined to work in the wood products industry; his father was a forester and Jeff was a proud Eureka High School Logger. After two years in Navy ROTC at Kansas University, he returned to the Pacific coast to attend UC Davis where he received his Bachelor's degree in soil science in 1975. His early fascination with dirt led to a career working with wood.
Following graduation, Jeff came to Oregon with the thought of living in Bend, where his mother was born and raised. Instead he landed in the valley and started work at Boise Cascade. He soon went to work for Simpson Timber, where he met his first Oregon best friend, Mike Joos. Together, they made and stole plywood (the statute of limitations has long since passed) and they each built a wooden drift boat. Mike used his boat regularly; Marla soon will turn her Sweet Baboo's boat into a tomato planter. But a lifelong friendship with Joos began. They fished and hunted, and hunted and fished.
Hunting and fishing came second after Jeff 's first hobby, golfing. He shot his first hole-in-one at the age of 14, witnessed by his first and longest bestie, Jeff Coeur. Many years later, the two Jeffs gathered annually at the Camp Sherman cabin to host "the boys" for a two-day (soon to become a five-day) golf event. The cabin, built in the '20s by his great-uncle Art Tifft, remains in the family today and continues to be one of Jeff 's all-time cherished places to gather with friends and family.
In 1986, Jeff 's life took an interesting twist when he met Marla Rae at a public house in Salem. Their first date was two days later. She thought his name was Ted. He thought hers was Merna. Ted and Merna married the following year. Sweet Baboo was a frequent victim of Marla's self-proclaimed stand-up comedy routines. He did not seem to mind that he was such an easy target. Their love for each other indeed was for better and for worse.
Jeff retired from Georgia Pacific after a nearly three decade career selling adhesives (aka glue peddler). Retirement meant more golf, fishing and hunting. And spending more time with his Little Woman.
Jeff was preceded in death by his parents and his younger sister, Jill.
Survivors include his wife, Marla Rae; first cousins, Craig Gribskov and Polly Lisle; and his remarkable in-laws, Bev and Tim Annala; Amy and Keller Christensen; and Herbie, Dani and Aatto Annala.
Memorial gatherings will be held later at Illahe Hills Country Club in Salem and the family home in the Gateway canyon. Fittingly, his ashes will be spread during the boys' golf event with some reserved for a particular sand trap at Eureka Muni, where he spent most of his school afternoons with Coeur.
Contributions, for those inclined, may be directed to the Boys & Girls Club of Salem, 1395 Summer Street NE, Salem, Oregon 97301 or the Jefferson County Historical Society, P.O. Box 647, Madras, Oregon 97741.
He passed with grace, dignity and good humor.