Alvin B. Wat­son

For­mer city health depart­ment deputy com­mis­sioner had been stand­out track and field ath­lete at La Salle Univer­sity

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By Jac­ques Kelly jac­ques.kelly@balt­sun.com

Alvin Berry Wat­son, a for­mer Bal­ti­more City Health Depart­ment deputy com­mis­sioner, died of heart fail­ure Oct. 23 at Si­nai Hos­pi­tal.

The North­west Bal­ti­more res­i­dent was 84.

“He lived his life in treat­ing peo­ple fairly, re­gard­less of who they were,” said his son, Barry K. Wat­son, a Bal­ti­more res­i­dent. “He was a taskmas­ter, but he was fair with all his em­ploy­ees. He did not be­lieve in peo­ple be­ing mis­treated in the work­place.

“He was al­ways there for his friends and fam­ily,” he said.

Born in Bal­ti­more and raised at Ar­ling­ton and Lafayette av­enues, he was the son of David Wat­son, a ho­tel waiter, and his wife, Beatrice Rus­sell, a beau­ti­cian.

He was a 1952 graduate of Fred­er­ick Dou­glass High School, where he played foot­ball and won hon­ors on the track and field team.

He met his fu­ture wife, Anita Elaine Har­ris, when she was a Dun­bar High School stu­dent and he was play­ing foot­ball for Dou­glass

He en­tered Mor­gan State Univer­sity and ma­jored in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion. Dur­ing his sopho­more year, he en­listed in the Army and joined its track and field team, be­com­ing a mem­ber of an elite four-by-four squad that ran in the Penn Re­lays.

He re­ceived a schol­ar­ship to La Salle Univer­sity in Philadel­phia and earned a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence de­gree in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion. He also ran on the school’s track team and joined the Kappa Al­pha Psi fra­ter­nity.

In 1959 he joined Mor­gan State Univer­sity’s ad­min­is­tra­tion as an ac­count clerk. He rose to be­come assistant con­troller and in 1968 was named the school’s fi­nance of­fi­cer and comp­trol­ler.

He then joined the Mary­land Pub­lic Broad­cast­ing Com­mis­sion as its di­rec­tor of ad­min­is­tra­tive ser­vices, and later joined the state’s Depart­ment of Bud­get and Fis­cal Plan­ning. He went on to be­come Cop­pin State Univer­sity’s vice pres­i­dent for busi­ness and fi­nance.

“He was an able ad­min­is­tra­tor,” said Cop­pin’s for­mer pres­i­dent, Dr. Calvin W. Bur­nett.

In 1975, then-Mayor Wil­liam Don­ald Schae­fer named him a Bal­ti­more City deputy health com­mis­sioner.

In a Bal­ti­more Sun ar­ti­cle, the mayor called Mr. Wat­son “ex­cep­tion­ally well qual­i­fied.” The ar­ti­cle said Mr. Wat­son was “the high­est-rank­ing black health of­fi­cer in Bal­ti­more’s his­tory, and the high­est such of­fi­cer in the state.”

“Mr. Wat­son ranked high­est on the com­pet­i­tive ex­am­i­na­tion given to all can­di­dates who ap­plied for the post,” Mr. Schae­fer told The Sun. “His past work record and back­ground demon­strate his qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

“We need a per­son who can han­dle fis­cal and bud­getary mat­ters, who can deal skill­fully in per­son­nel con­cerns and can work af­fir­ma­tively with peo­ple,” said Mr. Schae­fer. “We have found such a per­son in Mr. Wat­son.”

In late 1975, Mr. Wat­son stepped in as act­ing city health com­mis­sioner when the sit­ting com­mis­sioner, Dr. John B. DeHoff, took over as act­ing di­rec­tor of the old Bal­ti­more City Hos­pi­tals, now the Johns Hop­kins Bayvew Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

Mr. Wat­son re­tired nearly 20 years ago.

He col­lected jazz record al­bums and was a fan of Miles Davis and Can­non­ball Ad­der­ley.

He also main­tained a large li­brary of de­tec­tive fic­tion, and read the works of James Pat­ter­son, Michael Con­nelly and Mar­garet Tru­man. He read about the Civil War and the life of Gen. Wil­liam Te­cum­seh Sher­man.

He played golf with the For­est Park Se­nior Men’s Club and the T&T Golfers.

He was a Ma­son and be­longed to the Prince Hall Lodge in Bal­ti­more. He was also a mem­ber of the Ep­pos, a so­cial group as­so­ci­ated with the Epi­cure­ans. He was a past mem­ber of the No Name Club.

Ser­vices will be held at 11 a.m. Thurs­day at Dou­glas Me­mo­rial Com­mu­nity Church, 1325 Madi­son Ave., where he was a life­long mem­ber. A visi­ta­tion will be held be­gin­ning at 10 a.m.

In ad­di­tion to his son, sur­vivors in­clude his sis­ter, Muriel-Beu­lah Roberts of El­li­cott City; and nieces and neph­ews. His wife of 53 years, a Bal­ti­more City pub­lic schools teacher, died in 2013. Alvin B. Wat­son was “the high­est-rank­ing black health of­fi­cer in Bal­ti­more’s his­tory.”

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