Baylor University Mourns Passing of Sen. Murray Watson Jr.

  • Murray Watson Jr.
    (L to R) - Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben, Baylor Law Alumni Association President Ann Potts Jackson, 2017 Baylor Lawyer of the Year Sen. Murray Watson Jr., and Baylor Law Associate Dean Leah W. Teague.
  • Murray Watson Jr. 2
    An exemplar as a public servant, Sen. Murray Watson Jr. addresses the crowd at the 2017 Baylor Lawyer of the Year Luncheon.
July 27, 2018

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275
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WACO, Texas (July 26, 2018) – Baylor University is mourning the passing of Murray Watson Jr., B.B.A. (Accounting/Economics) ’52, J.D. ’54, a longtime public servant and steadfast supporter of higher education at Baylor and in McLennan County, who died July 24 in Waco. He was 86.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, July 27, at Wilkerson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home, 6101 Bosque Blvd. in Waco. A celebration of his life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 28, at Austin Avenue Methodist Church, 1300 Austin Ave. in Waco.

“Sen. Murray Watson truly lived out the mission of Baylor University,” said Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D. “He was a leader and statesman, and he willingly and tirelessly served the Baylor and Central Texas communities throughout his life. We are grateful for his dedicated public service and the shining example he set for our alumni and students, who seek to improve their own communities through the gift of service. We continue to pray for his family, that they are comforted through the testimony of his great faith and the assurance that comes from the truth we find in Jesus Christ.”

Three years after graduating from Baylor Law School, Sen. Watson was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, serving in the House until 1963, when he was elected to serve in the Texas Senate. As a Texas senator, he proposed the bill establishing the James Connally Technical Institute, which today is Texas State Technical College (TSTC) and has expanded to 10 campuses around the state. Sen. Watson served as general counsel for TSTC for 26 years.

In 1976, Sen. Watson, with then-Baylor President Abner McCall and others, founded the Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation Inc., a nonprofit organization that has provided affordable access to higher education through financial aid, government guaranteed student loans and scholarships. He served as general counsel, president and CEO since its organization. Through his leadership, Brazos Higher Education has allowed thousands of young people to achieve their education dreams. He also served as managing partner of his law firm and oversaw his family feed store and cattle operations in his hometown of Mart.

As lifelong advocates and benefactors of Baylor Law School and Baylor University, the Watsons established The Murray and Greta Warren Watson Endowed Scholarship Fund in Family and Consumer Sciences. Under Sen. Watson’s leadership, Brazos Higher Education also established scholarships in business and at Baylor Law. He was a member of the Baylor Law Alumni Association, Baylor Bear Foundation and Baylor Founders Club. In 2017, Baylor Law honored Sen. Watson as Baylor Lawyer of the Year.

Brad Toben, dean of Baylor Law and The M.C. and Mattie Caston Professor of Law, said Sen. Watson was a “man of genuine class and deep commitment to his community and to education.”

“Precious few folks are aware of the profound extent of his philanthropy. He consistently took pains to go ‘under the radar’ in his substantial giving, always giving for the joy it gave to him and his sweet Greta,” Toben said.

Toben said Sen. Watson recently sent one of his colleagues to deliver “yet another generous gift check to Baylor Law, along with an apology that he was not able to come by himself.”

“That’s Sen. Watson, always there to make a difference for others, always matter-of-fact, always grateful for all he and Greta were blessed with in life and always wanting to work from the background,” Toben said. “He and Greta represent all that is good in faith and the human spirit and endeavor. Were only that our nation was blessed with more like them. A giant has passed and the likes of Sen. Murray Watson will not pass this way again.”

Terry S. Maness, D.B.A., dean of Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business, described Sen. Watson as a “force of nature…who could move mountains.”

“Whether it was in the practice of law, in politics, his beloved community of Mart, his family or helping young people he didn’t even know be able to afford a college education, Murray Watson was there and made a difference,” Maness said. “His support of our business students through the Brazos Higher Education Endowed Scholarship will be an enduring testament of his care and concern for young people and the future of America.”

Sen. Watson is survived by his wife, Greta Warren Watson, B.S. ’59, who was his greatest supporter throughout his career of public service; two children, Missy Watson Larson, B.S.Ed. ’85, M.S.Ed. ‘87, and Marcus Warren Watson, B.B.A. ’94; and Annika, a Baylor sophomore, and Niklas Larson.

Memorial donations in Sen. Watson’s honor may be made to one of his favorite charities: Brazos Education Foundation, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, Austin Avenue United Methodist Church or a cancer research center of one’s choice.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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