Dora Watson: living the volunteer way
I didn’t even get a nap,” Dora Watson said recently, already more than 10 hours into her day with hours to go.
As far as retirement goes, Watson, who is known in certain circles as a tireless volunteer, said she’s busier now than when she worked full-time for the U.S. Postal Service in Craig during a span of three decades.
On this day, Watson, 62, had started working at 9 a.m. on a major cleaning project at the Craig Elks Club and, without much of a break, was volunteering again at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 starting at 7 p.m. The group’s meeting was scheduled to end at about 9:30 p.m. The rest of her week isn’t looking much better.
“I’m retired, but I’m working more now than ever,” she beamed.
A longtime Craig resident, Watson knows a thing or two about the value of hard work and local history.
At 4-foot-9-inches tall and quick to share a smile or a chuckle, Watson seems indefatigable. It’s a life of volunteerism that she loves, now that the daily grind is behind her.
Watson worked for 30 years at the Craig post office, at a time when the building was on Russell Street. For almost the first two years, though, “to get my foot in the door” Watson cleaned the building. That was in 1973. During the years after that, Watson became accustomed to seeing the familiar faces of Craig residents, sometimes at their worst.
“It was very trying,” she said, about grumpy customers who visited her window. About others, however, Watson said, “There are a lot of people that I used to see that I’m still friends with.”
Watson moved to Craig in 1969 with her then-husband and two children ages 2 and 6.
She worked a variety of jobs, such as retail, laundry and waiting tables. The pay rate for some of those jobs was $1.25 to $1.75 an hour, she said. That’s why, when a job at the post office opened for $4.11 an hour, Watson jumped at the chance to make ends meet. Some of those places where she worked in town have closed. They include a truck stop diner called M&M Cafe, where Ocean Pearl is today; a restaurant called Brown’s Cafe; the El Rancho Motel; and a laundry facility called Harlow’s.
These days, Watson said she enjoys her time volunteering. She is president of the ladies VFW group, a loyal knight of the Craig Elks Club, vice president of the Browns Park Homemakers Club and a member of the Eastern Star, a women’s group associated with the Masons.
“I have a lot of things going on,” she said. “Probably too many things.”
In 2000, Watson joined the Elks Club, marking the first woman to join its ranks. At that time, her now-husband, Jody, was the exalted ruler, or head of the club. That made Watson the club’s first lady — twice over.
“There were one or two men who didn’t want me in,” she said of the former all men’s group.
But the club was in need of new members, she said, and opening its ranks to women has breathed new life into the organization. Club members are planning a 75th anniversary bash in July, part of the reason Watson stays so busy.
With the VFW, Watson has probably served and helped prepared hundreds of pounds of food for senior citizens for the once-monthly meals. It’s a chore that Watson is proud to do.
“It’s nice to watch everyone sit and visit,” she said. “They don’t have to worry about what they are going to do that Saturday.”
Watson has six grandchildren, half from her son who works in the Air Force. She is proud of her grown children and “wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.”
Although she would love to have her children and grandchildren closer, Watson manages to keep busy.
“I’m usually busy the whole week, except for Thursday,” she said. “People always ask me what I’m going to do today.”
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Update 11:40 a.m.: Moffat County School District placed Moffat County High School in a shelter in place Wednesday morning around 10:30 a.m. after receiving a request from Craig Police Department for a shelter in place.