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MEEKER I The Watt family gathered for a reunion on the Fourth of July to celebrate generations of family and fun. They entered a float in the parade, decorated with larger-than-life pictures of Tom Watt, Liz and their children.
Tom was born in Norwood, Colo., in 1909. Liz was born in the old Fort Collins Hospital in 1907. Her father, Dr. Fee, worked in Wiley, Colo., and then the Westcliffe area. Liz attended Colorado A&M before moving to Norwood. Tom grew up in Norwood and met Liz when she came to teach in the small town. The two were married on Valentine’s Day, 1931.
They moved to Meeker in 1942 when Tom got a job with the Grazing Service (now the BLM, named for the Taylor Grazing Act at that time) He had been working for the Civilian Conservation Corps, part of President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” plan to pull America out of the Great Depression. Tom worked for the grazing service until buying the Baer White River Creamery. He owned the creamery from approximately 1946 to 1952, before selling it to the producers, a collection of dairy producers in the area.
Tom and Liz then moved their family to Norwood for about eight months, then to Delta and back to Meeker in 1955.
Liz taught in Olathe during some of that time. She stayed home with their children when they were young, then returned to teaching for another 20 years in Meeker prior to her retirement in the early 1980s. People who knew her at the time or who were taught by her remember her teaching methods and techniques that were ahead of their time. For example, she established peer groups involving kids of all levels to help and learn from each other, and the treasured list of great friends made by each student, and several other methods she probably could patented.
Tom and Liz bought Watt’s Ranch Market on April 1, 1955. It was located on Market Street where the Blue Spruce Inn is now. The original store was actually in the building currently being used as a pawn shop on Market Street, next to Sulphur Creek. In 1957, they built a new store that was used until 2005. Tom owned and operated the store until 1969 when their son Harry took over management. In 2005 Watt’s celebrated its grand opening and 50th anniversary on the same day as they moved into the store’s current location on the east end of town. Now in its third generation under the management of J.C. Watt, the store has been a symbol of consistency for more than 57 years.
Tom passed away in 2000 and Liz in 2004. They were married nearly 70 years and were voted the “couple married the longest” for several years at the annual Old Timers Celebration. The two had five children: Ann, Tom, Harry, Sally, and Dick. Of their 16 grandchildren, nearly 50 percent have been awarded college scholarships, some for athletics, one to the University of Wyoming, one to Oregon University, two rodeo scholarships to New Mexico and Texas universities, and academic scholarships as well. The Watt grandchildren have been successful in everything from the practice of law, to education, to yoga. Their humor, intelligence, athleticism and in some cases, horsemanship, handed down from their grandparents, has proven very successful.
When Tom and Liz weren’t running the store, ranching or teaching, they enjoyed spending time with friends, playing cards and laughing. They made lifelong friends in town, friendships that have spanned generations. In fact, Liz was the Fourth of July parade marshal one year with long time friend Pauline Sheridan, the two had not missed the Range Call rodeo in 50 years.
The Watt family is nothing if not original, unique in their longevity as business owners, and priceless for those fortunate enough to be lifelong friends of the family. Tom and Liz would certainly be proud of the group that gathered for the reunion.