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WatsonAug 31, 1933 - March 1, 2015 EDMOND Thomas Philip Watson, 81, was born August 31, 1933, in Nashville, Arkansas, the youngest child of Jordan Franklin and Frieda (Pryor) Watson. He enlisted in the United States Air Force and was a control tower operator during the Korean Conflict. He attended Harding College and married Jacqueline Messick; together, they had one daughter, Angela Joyce. The family moved to Oklahoma for his work for Oklahoma Christian College. In September of 1963, he lost both Jackie and Angie in a tragic accident. In 1964, Phil married Mary Alice Parks, a union that would last just over fifty-one years. Mary Rebecca and Phylis Ann were adoring "Daddy's Girls" who completed their family. After several years serving the Edmond Church of Christ as their full-time minister, he was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate in 1972, a position he held for 15 years. He was the Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services from 1987 to 1990. He retired from the Rural Development Cooperative of the USDA in 1998. In 1983, Phil was approached by his longtime mentor and friend, Dr. George Benson, about working with mission efforts in Zambia, Africa. This began the work most near and dear to Phil's heart. Phil eventually accepted the position of Chairman of the Board for the Zambia Mission efforts while Mary assumed duties as secretary, bookkeeper, and correspondent for the work. Phil was preceded in death by his parents; first wife, Jackie; daughter, Angie; six brothers and two sisters. He is survived by his wife, Mary, of Edmond; daughter, Mary Rebecca "Becky" Walderbach and husband Scott, of Edmond, Oklahoma; daughter, Phylis Frye and husband Jonathan, of Houston, Texas; grandsons, William Walderbach, Hamilton Frye, Harrison Frye, and Robert Walderbach; special family friend, Dr. James Crowder; and a host of nieces, nephews and close personal friends. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Zambia Mission Schools in Phil's honor. The family will greet friends on Tuesday, March 3, 6-8 p.m. at Matthews Funeral Home. Services will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at Edmond Road Church of Christ with interment to follow at Memorial Park Cemetery.

Published in The Oklahoman on Mar. 3, 2015
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