Charles Garman Watkins obituary photo
In Memory of

Charles Garman Watkins

September 15, 1931 - June 12, 2017


Charles Garman Watkins, age 85, died peacefully Monday, June 12th in his home. He was born in Durham County to the late Irvine Beaufort Watkins and Treva Garman Watkins.

Charles is survived by his wife of 60 years, Jean Currin Watkins, daughters Ava Watkins of New York City and Treva Tyson, son-in-law David Tyson, and grandchildren Treva and Hannah Tyson all of Raleigh He was predeceased by his brother Irvine Beaufort Watkins of Chapel Hill.

Raised in Henderson, NC, he attended Darlington Prep School in Rome, Georgia. He graduated from the University...

Charles Garman Watkins, age 85, died peacefully Monday, June 12th in his home. He was born in Durham County to the late Irvine Beaufort Watkins and Treva Garman Watkins.

Charles is survived by his wife of 60 years, Jean Currin Watkins, daughters Ava Watkins of New York City and Treva Tyson, son-in-law David Tyson, and grandchildren Treva and Hannah Tyson all of Raleigh He was predeceased by his brother Irvine Beaufort Watkins of Chapel Hill.

Raised in Henderson, NC, he attended Darlington Prep School in Rome, Georgia. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill where he was a member of the Zeta Psi Fraternity. These college relationships were the framework of his adult life. He and his friends were avid UNC fans, and followed all the University's sports, but were especially devoted to the men's basketball program. Needless to say he was overjoyed at the recent NCAA results.

After college, he served honorably during the Korean War in the United States Army and had the good fortune to be stationed in Sankt Johann, Austria which he visited while on a cruise with his daughter Treva two years ago.

When his service ended, he began his career in finance with Dunn and Bradstreet, next joining Wheat First Securities as Vice President. He later went on to be manager at AG Edwards, Inc. Charlie loved the investment world and his clients loved him. He helped Ben Edwards expand into the Carolinas, and the firm was eventually bought out by Wachovia.

He was a member of the Terpsichorean Club, The St Christopher's Club, and served on the Board of Directors of the Boys Clubs of Wake County. Charlie was asked by a friend, Blanche Bacon to coach a little league basketball team of underprivileged youths and he jumped at the chance. He could talk endlessly about the team and got great pride from his role as coach. Phil Jackson had nothing on Charlie.

Charlie and Jean loved the North Carolina coast and every weekend made a trip to Beaufort, where they eventually bought a house on the water. They spent half of the year in Beaufort after retirement. Charlie joined the Morehead City Country Club and after years of playing tennis and became quite an accomplished retirement golfer. He proudly displayed his hole in one trophy from the Carolina Country Club in Raleigh, where he was also a member.

Charlie loved being a father and grandfather. His love of sports included watching his daughters and granddaughters play tennis, basketball, cheerleading, soccer, golf, lacrosse and many other sports. Fishing with his friends and family in coastal waters always made him smile. "Charlie Boy" had a way of just showing up and making sure everyone knew it was all going to be alright. And then there were his dogs. There were many different ones over a lifetime. He took them everywhere, even the 19th Hole. He practically let them drive the car. Sometimes you couldn't see that there was a human at the wheel. His current dog, Onnie was by his side at the end. She is looking for him to walk back through the door. Slim as his friends often called him will no doubt be waiting for her when she crosses the rainbow bridge.

A memorial service will be held on Friday June 16th at 11 am at Brown-Wynne Funeral Home Chapel, 300 St. Mary's Street, Raleigh. The family will receive friends and relatives the evening of Thursday June 15th from 4 to 6pm at the Carolina Country Club.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Boys and Girls Club of Wake County, 701 N. Raleigh Boulevard, Raleigh, NC 27610 or the SPCA of Wake County, 200 Petfinder Lane, Raleigh NC 27603.



I'm David Tyson, Charlie's Son in law, and like most of you I suspect, I have been deeply saddened by the abrupt loss of our mutual good friend this week.
Since Monday my thoughts have been dominated by memories and stories of Slim Charles , or Capt. Slim as he was first introduced to me over three decades ago now.

There are so many stories and anecdotes that the toughest task in composition was editing to a length that would ensure that I wouldn't run over our allotment of time and find ourselves joining the mourners of the next scheduled service.

I first met Charlie in 1983 shortly after Treva and I had begun dating. She took me down to Morehead City to meet her parents who were spending the weekend on the trawler North Star which they owned jointly with Billy and Patty Moss. Charlie and I forged a quick and easy bond of friendship probably based upon our mutual love of the NC coastal waters, fishing, Tarheel Sports, afternoon cocktails and-oh yes, his baby daughter Treva.

Charlie and I spent a lot of time in each other's company in the years that followed. And a lot of that time was spent in boats fishing, crabbing, just touring-or as Charlie liked to say: "yachting." I suppose it was during those days on the water that I gained some comprehension of the wit, wisdom, and world view Capt. Slim. You can really get to know a guy when you're in a boat with him for 8 to 10 hours and can't get any farther away than 21'

One of his characteristics I quickly discerned was that this was a man with little or no panic button. His reactions and approach to maritime calamity were truly impressive. I'm sure I've lost track of all the near-misses and brushes with disaster we experienced over the years with Capt. Slim at the helm, but several do come to mind:

Charlie had been fishing the coast for about a decade and a half before I came on the scene, so he knew where the fish were. They were out at the Cape Lookout Shoals-or more specifically, in the Cape Lookout Shoals. So that's where he was going to go catch them! Many was the time that Charlie would be hypnotized by the bouncing trolling rod and fail to see-and I'll use the Charlie vernacular here: "the big wave that made up" and rolled right over the bow sending an avalanche of green water carrying coolers, cushions, tackle bags, and small people, on a circus ride to the stern. Charlie never seemed even remotely taken out of rhythm by these events, which did seem to happen with unfortunate regularity. He'd just power the boat right out of the breakers, drain the water through the scuppers, and head right back in to hunt down those wily Spanish Mackerel, or maybe a bluefish or two for Jean to fry up.

On one of our visits to Beaufort Charlie was determined to introduce me to wondrous world of gill net fishing. He was convinced, based upon some netting trips long ago filed in the archives, that we'd just kill the fish with this gill net he'd acquired. So off we went to the shoals on a beautiful late September afternoon to set the vaunted gill net. He explained that we had to keep the lead line separate from the float line as we payed -out the net. All seemed to be going along pretty well. Amazingly well I was thinking. Until it was time to drop the anchor overboard to secure the terminal end of the gear. The Capt. wasn't satisfied with the lay of the net and thought we should straighten it out some. So in the course of backing down on the float line, we backed right into the mesh wrapping it tightly around the prop and shutting the engine down completely. Capt. Courageous was undaunted. "hey we have fillet knives" he said. So overboard we jumped and took turns holding our breath while hacking hunks of monofilament out of the wheel. Now the water where we had come to this unceremonious halt was only about 6' deep which meant Charlie could stand on the bottom while working while my 5'7" body was bobbing and weaving around endeavoring to stay on station. I remember looking over at Charlie and noticing that the boat hull was repeatedly hitting him on his head as he sawed away. We finally got the last bits of net cut away and clamored back aboard. By this time it was just about dark so we headed back home vowing to return at daybreak to retrieve the gear. When we got back home and into the light I could see that Charlie had an indelible spot of blue/green anti-fouling bottom paint squarely in the middle of his bald forehead. He found this absolutely hilarious and certainly nothing to be at all concerned with-it would all ware off in due course.

The next generation of Tysons got a chance to experience and appreciate Capt. Slim in action on the brine as well. When Hunter, my oldest daughter was 4 or 5 Treva and I sent her down to Beaufort to spend the week with her grandparents. By this time the moniker Capt. Slim had been exchanged for Charlie Boy thanks to a bit of linguistic training by Mama Jean. So off to Camp Charlie Boy Hunter went. And no camp session was complete without logging some serious boating time. Charlie Boy loaded Hunter into his vessel along with food and supplies for a serious day of fun at Shackelford Banks. As they approached the beach at Shack Charlie put the boat in neutral and jumped overboard with the anchor and rode in hand. As you have probably guessed by now , the anchor line was not tied off to the boat. So Charlie was left standing on the beach shouting knot tying instructions to a bewildered toe-headed five year old who was watching her grandfather's shrinking figure on the beach as the boat drifted out toward the inlet on the outgoing tide. Charlie, channeled his inner Johnny Weismuller, set a senior record for open water fly stroke, catching up to the boat just before the situation got truly parilous. Disaster averted. No harm no foul. What's for lunch?

Nobody could ever claim Charlie had a drop of Chicken Little blood coursing through his veins.

It always seemed to me that he seemed to know with absolute metaphysical certitude that nothing bad was ever going to happen so there was never any rational foundation for fear. You simply dealt with the situation as it presented itself, take it in stride, and move forward!

Now all that time spent in boats together gave Charlie something of an opportunity to recount his numerous life experiences. Many times he would talk of his stint in the Army which seemed to have been a transformative period for him. The time was during the Korean War and Charlie was stationed in Austria during the latter days of the Allied Occupation. Most of his stories were humorous: like the time he lost his entire paycheck in a game of craps 60 KL from the base and had to sneak aboard a train and hide from the conductor in order to make it back before roll call. Or setting up a makeshift bowling alley in the hallways-all games carried a wager of course. These are stories I heard often. But my favorite story, one that is emblematic of Charlie's unwillingness to accept mindless rules and regulation no matter the authority, I heard only once just a couple of years ago.

For those of my generation and younger I must set up some context: In the time Charlie served in the Army, the GI's were responsible for cleaning and pressing their own laundry. This included ironing all shirts and tunics with starch to ensure the proper creases.

So the day of barracks inspection arrived. The Sargent moved from troop to troop inspecting foot lockers, fire arms, and hanging lockers. Unfortunately for Charlie, the Sarge decided to stop at his hanging locker and pull several hanging shirts out for closer inspection. And what to his wondering eyes should appear? Shirts that were only half ironed so as to appear totally squared away from the isle. So the Sargent went orbital saying something to the effect of : Watkins, in almost 20 years in this man's army I have never seen anybody try to pull off a stunt like this one! And I'm sure he never saw it again.

But not all the Army stories were funny ones. He told me of being assigned sentry duty on the army landfill compound. This was post WWII and many of the local people were starving. They would come to the landfill to forage for food scraps and the sentries were ordered to run them out. Charlie convinced several others to turn a blind eye to the foraging activities. "Those people were truly starving" he told me.
"we shouldn't be running them off."

I think it was just this sense of compassion served Charlie well in future years in the investment business world. I remember Jean saying many times: "do you know how much better off we'd be if Charlie wouldn't fill his client rolls with all those widow ladies?" Charlie had a heart-felt drive to guide those who had lost their spouse and were perhaps not so adept at managing their finances and investments. He took those clients just as seriously as he did someone looking to acquire a more major market position. He never seemed to tire of answering questions like: Charlie, can I afford this new dress,?" Or: Charlie, will I go broke if I join my friends on a European vacation next summer?

Charlie was old school. He had that truly organic sense of fiduciary responsibility and he had the patience of Job when it came to his clients, especially those with limited financial savvy.

And speaking of finances and responsible money management, everyone who knew Charlie was aware that he was-shall we say-"careful with a dollar." After being around him for several years, I became convinced that he had actually coined the phrase: "preservation of capital."

I remember the stories Treva would tell of the early days when Charlie would relent and take them out for a restaurant meal at the Villa Capri. Treva and Ava would get to have the free appetizer portion of spaghetti and mix sugar into the ice water for their fountain drink.

Then there were the times Charlie would take young Treva to the coast for a weekend fishing trip. Treva would be the Artful Dodger to Charlie's Fagaan as they would stage a raid on an unsuspecting motel and help themselves to some "complementary ice" for the day's angling adventure. Heck, it would refill before anyone at the motel needed any ice anyway...

As I was composing these stories I was reminded by Hunter of what she remembers as the chart topper Charlie Boy anecdote. She was about 10 years old and we had asked Charlie to help us by picking Hunter up from her tutor late that afternoon. He eagerly agreed as always and dutifully arrived at the appointed time to get her. Charlie was ALWAYS there for his grandkids. Hunter complained of hunger and proceeded to list off a half dozen restaurants they might stop at for supper while on their way down Six Forks rd. "No, no" Charlie said, "I know the PERFECT PLACE WE CAN GO!
This is when the warning bells should go off.
So directly down Six forks they went and right through the front doors of the newly constructed Costco where Charlie proceeded to march Hunter around from one free sample tray to the next. This was Charlie Boy's version of a progressive dinner.

It took Treva several years and some documentation to prove to me that the Watkins name was of Welsh origin. I just knew it had to be Scottish.

These are but a few of the Charlie Watkins stories I could tell and I know many of you have multitudes of your own. I'll close with one last brief one.

As we all know Charlie did not suffer from a lack of opinions.

On one of my first fishing trips with Charlie I thought it would be a good idea to BYOB for the weekend. Charlie, as we'll all recall, was an inveterate Vodka man.

When I brought out my flask, he asked me: what sort of hooch is that?
Why that's gin I replied. I love a gin and tonic at the end of a hot summer day.

" Well , Charlie said, all I know about Gin is that the Brits used to rule about half the world.
Then they started drinking gin and it's been a downward spiral for them ever since."

So I'd ask you this afternoon at cocktail hour to raise a glass of your favorite beverage in remembrance of Capt. Slim Charles
A man of humor, courage, compassion, and principal

Smooth seas and tight lines