Obituary of William Garfield “Garry” Watson
William Garfield “Garry” Watson, age 78, died on January 4, 2023, at his home in Salem, Oregon.
Garry was born in Newbridge, Wales, February 12, 1944, to William George Watson and Betty Brook Watson (née Jones). He spent his early childhood in Wales, moving to Worthing, Sussex, in 1957. In January 1965, he married Françoise Wurckler (now Orrell). After earning a First Class Honors Degree at University of Sussex, he began a PhD there in American Studies, completing his dissertation on Norman Mailer courtesy of a Fulbright Fellowship that enabled him to live and teach in the US with his family for two years (first at Suny Buffalo, NY, then at Middlebury College, VT). He then took a position at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, where he retired as a full professor after 46 years of remarkable teaching and writing in the Department of English and Film Studies. His many reviews and essays appeared in journals like Cineaction, Salmagundi, The D. H. Lawrence Review, Cambridge Quarterly and English (in the UK), College English, English Studies in Canada, University of Toronto Quarterly, Études Lawrenciennes (France), and in monograph collections on James, Conrad, and Lawrence. He also authored three books: The Leavises, the “Social,” and the Left (1977), The Cinema of Mike Leigh: A Sense of the Real (2004), and Opening Doors: Thought From (and Of) the Outside (2008). With M. Elizabeth Sargent he co-edited Teaching the Works of D. H. Lawrence (MLA 2001).
At retirement in 2016, Garry moved to Oregon with his second wife, Mary Elizabeth (Betsy) Sargent (m. August 1998), where he continued various writing projects while enjoying travel to Italy, France, Croatia, and mainly Mexico--often joined there by his son, Martin Watson--or Ireland and the UK, to spend time with Robert Watson in Sheffield (his kid brother) and with his daughter, Sophie Watson, his son-in-law, Aengus Kelly, and his grandchildren, Tallulah and Felix. When not traveling outside of Oregon, he also assisted Betsy weekly in driving north to Portland to spend time with his stepdaughters, Hannah and Molly Wallace, and their families, grandparenting Joanna, Wesley, and Madeleine.
Although a non-smoker since 1993, Garry was diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2020. Part of his left lung was removed 16 Oct 2020; but in spite of the large tumor being gone, minimal lymph node involvement, and follow-up chemo, he learned ten months later that the cancer had spread to the right lung. Garry benefitted from excellent treatment over the next 2 1/2 years at the Providence Franz Cancer Center in Portland, especially under the care of Dr. Rachel Sanborn and her team of research nurses. After receiving the best possible current standard of care (chemo, followed by immunotherapy, neither of which slowed the progression of his disease), Garry contributed to cancer research by participating in a sequence of five different clinical trials, all financed through the Franz Cancer Institute.
In spite of his illness, Garry stayed as active as possible, completing the mile-long Crater Lake hike to the water’s edge for a swim (and back up again) twice in August 2022. In early September, he spent 5 days by Odell Lake and Crescent Lake, OR, enjoying swims and meals with his stepdaughters and their families. At the end of September, he enjoyed a week with his son within sight of the Canadian border in Birch Bay, WA. And in October, he was delighted by the arrival of his daughter and granddaughter from Devon to spend a sunny week in Salem, with forays to Mt Hood, Trillium & Timothy Lakes, and nearby Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge.
He received attentive, loving support at home during his final week from Hospice, Betsy, and Martin, who drove down from Canada to be with his father, arriving the morning of New Year's Eve. A virtual memorial service is scheduled for 11 am Pacific Time on what would have been Garry’s 79th birthday, Sunday, February 12, 2023. A link will be posted by the end of January for those who wish to participate or simply listen in. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Garry’s honor to Willamette Valley Vital Health (Hospice) at https://www.wvh.org/donate or to the Providence Cancer Center at https://foundation.providence.org/oregon/priorities/cancer-institute