Gretchyn E. Watson: 1915-2004

Gretchyn E. Watson of Craig, died Sept. 15, 2004, at the Doak Walker Care Center in Steamboat Springs. She was 89.

Watson was born July 8, 1915, in Pagoda, to Roger M. and Jessie (Smith) Saunders, the second child of a family that included Cora, Roger Melville, Jessie Mae, Harry and Geraldine Saunders.

Watson was truly a woman of the West. Her grandfather, Elisha Melville Saunders, was a Colorado territorial settler migrating with his family to the Arkansas Valley from North Carolina in 1871 and her father, Roger M. Saunders, was born in the Maybell Valley in 1888. Later, after living in the Arkansas Valley as a young man, Roger moved to Routt County and married Watson's mother, Jessie Smith Saunders, who was born in Pueblo in 1893.

Watson and her family lived on a cattle ranch on the Williams Fork River in the early part of the 20th century and later moved to a ranch east of Craig during the Depression years, raising cattle and operating a small dairy that served the town of Craig and surrounding area.

Watson spent her grade school years in a "one room school house" in Pagoda and later graduated from Craig High School. She attended Colorado A&M College and majored in business. After graduation, she returned to Northwestern Colorado, married Loren Anderson and gave birth to a daughter, Saundra. Watson worked as a bookkeeper and CPA for various businesses and mercantile establishments in Craig. She ran the Selective Service Office in Craig during World War II and later worked at local automobile dealerships as an accountant. She married Chester Watson on June 21, 1951, in Elko, Nev. Chester was a local businessman, in the trucking and automobile sales business, who dreamed of returning to the livestock business of his youth. They and their son, Kent, raised sheep in Northwestern Colorado for almost 20 years. Watson was busy, never missing a school program, active in the Woolgrowers Association and the Congregational Church, where she served as treasurer. She created marvelous meals and baked great pies. She held the post of grand officer and achieved Grand Matron in the Order of the Eastern Star and was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Yet, when her husband became disabled from a ranching accident in 1964, she learned everything she could about nursing in order to care for him at home.

Watson and her husband continued to live in their home in Craig for the next 30 years, selling the sheep operation in 1968. Her husband became Moffat County commissioner for two terms and she actively supported him in this endeavor. They traveled, enjoyed their expanding family, and spent a number of winters in Yuma, Ariz. After her husband's death in 1992, she developed Alzheimer's disease and lived the final six years of her life at the Doak Walker Care Center in Steamboat Springs, where she was loved and given excellent care.

Watson is survived by her two children, Saundra Steele of Steamboat, and Kent Watson of Challis, Idaho; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Services were held Sept. 24, 2004, at the First Congregational Church in Craig with the Rev. Dave Barnes officiating. Interment was at the Craig Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made in her name to the Doak Walker Care Center, 1024 Central Park Drive, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487, or to the Alzheimer's Association through Grant Mortuary.

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