The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

In tribute: Community finds celebration in Scotty Watson


February 10, 2019

David Grieder

Floyd Hancock, Jr., left, and Scotty Watson's son Tyler spoke during a funeral for the late firefighter and EMT director that filled the Dora Gymnasium on Wednesday evening. Firefighters rotated in pairs every ten minutes holding axes beside Watson's casket during the service.

DORA - You can get a sense of what Scotty Watson meant to the communities he served by the massive crowd Wednesday at his funeral, a group of some 800 filling the Dora High School gymnasium unlike any event there short of some championship games years back.

"This was probably one of the largest funerals that I've seen in this area. We've had a few fire chiefs that we buried and we hadn't seen this kind of turnout; it's very impressive," Dora Fire Chief Paul Luscombe told The News.

Watson, a Portales firefighter since 2005 and Dora EMS director, passed last month at age 51 following complications from a routine surgery. However, just as he'd trained his students on responding to stressful situations and being prepared for the unexpected, Watson's family knew what he wanted when the time came: a traditional firefighter's funeral, a nighttime interment in Causey Cemetery and a gathering in the town where he grew up, finished high school and gave years of service.

"He wanted all this, because y'all were his family," Tyler Watson told the crowd of the wishes of his father, "a great man who was with us for a short time.

"This isn't a loss," he continued. "This is a celebration."

Amid mingled tears and laughter, speakers at Watson's service recalled his patience as a teacher, his sense of humor and his dedication to his family, his faith and his communities in and around Roosevelt County.

Portales/Dora FD battalion chief TJ Cathey said Watson was adept at "stirring the pot in an argument and finding somebody's goat and kicking it," while still able to pull in the reins with a calm demeanor.

"If a random person drove by today," Cathey said of the crowd that included up to 300 area fire personnel and a parking lot loaded with over 40 pieces of their apparatus. "They would be in awe of the love and respect we have for Scotty. ... It's a small example of honoring a great man."

Will Spina, pastor at Portales' 3rd and Kilgore Church of Christ, recalled hearing of the first aid training demonstrations Watson would lead at home, as well as an anecdote of requesting rabbit lungs for a tutorial on the respiratory system. What better illustration is there of training emergency medical response in a rural environment?

"As we look around the room today, we note the honors being bestowed upon Scotty," Spina said of the "revered teacher and part-time comedian."

Luscombe said Watson's impact on the community really can't be overestimated.

"If a guy's got a lasting legacy, that's going to be it," he said. "It's going to be the fact that he single-handedly extended Roosevelt County EMS programs for years by the training he did."

Watson's sudden absence leaves a void, Luscombe told The News, but in his fashion he'd already made progress on training two new instructors. In barely a week since his passing, remembrances and anecdotes of Watson show his impact on the people he loved and served, a focus on what a person leaves behind rather than what they cannot take with them.

His wife, Sam Watson, recalled a moment they shared just before he went into surgery.

"The clerk asked Scotty if he brought anything valuable with him," she wrote. "He smiled that slow smile, took my hand and said, 'Only my wife.'"

Tyler Watson reflected again Saturday on his father's legacy and said it was evident in the people whose lives he touched.

"His legacy is everybody who helps somebody, and anybody who takes the time to teach somebody," he told The News. "To answer your question, it's already there. It's who he taught, whether it be his children or his coworkers and his fellow EMTs."


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