Cover photo for Graham Marshall Watkins's Obituary
Graham Marshall Watkins Profile Photo
1930 Graham 2019

Graham Marshall Watkins

October 2, 1930 — February 17, 2019

"What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for one another?" George Sand (Aurore Dupin)

Long-time Farmington resident, Graham Marshall Watkins, died quietly on Sunday, February 17, at Namaste House after a brief stay there.

Born in Spokane, WA in 1930 to parents Gordon Marshall Watkins and Esther (Graham) Watkins, Graham grew up in Athena, Oregon amidst the wheat and pea fields that checkerboard the wide open spaces of eastern Oregon. His parents owned and operated Watkins' Pharmacy in Athena throughout Graham's childhood. When he was 9 years old, he contracted osteomyelitis, a bacterial bone infection that nearly killed him and which left him with his signature lifelong limp.

Graham went to undergraduate school at Washington State University where he majored in music education, playing both piano and bassoon. Upon graduation, he intended to spend his career teaching band to high school students. But after a couple of years teaching in Milton-Freewater, he came home one day to his new bride, Pearl (Wiseman) Watkins, and announced: "I'm not going to do this the rest of my life. Anything must be easier. I think I'll be a doctor instead."

And so he did. He attended Portland State, then Howard University Medical School, before completing his medical training at Oregon Health Sciences University. He completed his residency in Pontiac, Michigan.

After Pontiac, Graham and Pearl moved to Shelton, Washington where he spent his first year in private practice. A year later he moved to Sumner, WA, where he became partner in a prosperous downtown practice: Denzler, Clark, Duffy, & Watkins.

In 1975, Graham and his wife Pearl and their four children-Wendy, Marc, Todd, and Tony-left the velvet greens of the Pacific Northwest for the sandstone reds of the Desert Southwest where they instantly felt a kinship with the geography of the high desert landscape and its people. After serving a year at the Navajo Health Authority in Shiprock, he moved his practice of family medicine to Farmington and established a private medical office on Navajo Street. Graham's practice of medicine was noted for his blend of compassion, accessibility, and highly personal care for his patients. He was well-respected and much-loved.

Perhaps Graham's happiest years were when he and Pearl fulfilled their lifelong dream of doing mission field work. Working through the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., they were sent to Nepal in 1987 where Graham worked as the medical director in a field hospital in Tansen, 200 miles from Kathmandu. There, Graham and Pearl forged deep and meaningful bonds with the local people. Until his death he continued long-distance relationships with several dear Nepalese friends. Graham and Pearl regarded their Nepal experience as among their happiest and hardest adventures.

Returning to Farmington, Graham accepted the Medical Director position at San Juan Regional's new Urgent Care Center where he worked until retirement.

Graham had two great loves: Pearl Wiseman Watkins, married in 1954 until Pearl's passing in 2000; and Nancy Wilhite Watkins, married in 2001 to Nancy's passing in 2014. Surviving the deaths of two beloved wives was his single greatest challenge in life. However, Graham said many times, "Don't feel sorry for me. I had 60 years with two of the finest women in the world: I had 47 years with Pearl and 13 years with Nancy. I'm the luckiest man alive." Indeed, he was a devoted husband who brought perennial good cheer, unflinching loyalty and dedication, as well as a wry sense of humor to his marriages.

Graham is survived by his four children: Wendy Watkins (Paul Koops) of Cortez, Colorado; Marc Watkins, Todd (Melanie) Watkins, and Tony (Jinx Baskerville) Watkins all of Albuquerque, New Mexico. His grandchildren include: Ryan (Amber) Watkins of San Antonio, Texas; Amos Watkins of Albuquerque, NM; Sawyer (Lauren) Koops of Phoenix, Arizona; Ruby Watkins of Los Angeles, California, Olivia (B.R.) Holbrook of Albuquerque, NM; Casey Koops of Durango, Colorado; and Satchel Watkins of Albuquerque, NM. Graham had five great-granddaughters: Madelyn, Harper, Emmy, Ava, and Kendall. Graham is also survived by his older sister, Norma June (Don) Bauer of Beaverton, Oregon and their four children.

Graham Watkins was a gentle man: understated, self-deprecating, more willing to listen than to speak, humble, abundantly generous, kind, blessed with a keen mind, a witty tongue, a musical ear, a long fuse, and a sweet stoicism. He recognized the humanity in all people, individually and collectively, struggled when he witnessed inequity, gave liberally to works he deemed important, was a loyal husband, father, friend, faithful church member, and a noble community member of the town that he called home.

Memorial services for Graham will be Saturday February 23 at 3:00 at First Presbyterian Church in Farmington at 865 North Dustin.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Graham Marshall Watkins, please visit our flower store.


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