Cover photo for Eugene "Gene"  Autry Watson's Obituary
Eugene "Gene"  Autry Watson Profile Photo

Eugene "Gene" Autry Watson

March 31, 1939 — February 20, 2022

Eugene "Gene" Autry Watson

Heaven gained a loving and hardworking angel on February 20th, 2022. 


Eugene Autry Watson (“Papa”) was born on March 31st, 1939, in Webster County, Georgia. He served as a weapons mechanic in the Air Force and married Annette Watson in 1961. This past October, they celebrated 60 years of marriage. Together they raised five kids and, later in life, chased after eight grandkids and ten great-grandchildren in Reidsville, North Carolina. Gene was due to meet his first great-great-grandchild (5 generations) in a few months. 


Gene was a cherished member of the Reidsville community. Many people knew him as the gregarious manager at Freeway Builder’s Supply and an electrician with Carter Lock and Security. On Sundays and Wednesdays, Gene and his wife regularly attended services at Lawsonville Road Baptist Church. In the evenings, he enjoyed watching his sons play softball at Jaycee Park and relaxing on the porch. He always kept Jolly Ranchers and Life Saver candies in his shirt’s front pocket and a Diet Coke in his hand. He enjoyed working on cars and fixing things around the house. Most of all, he enjoyed being with family and watching children playing in the yard.


Papa exemplified loyalty, perseverance, and family devotion beyond humanistic standards. Not through grandiose gestures, but by heartfelt deeds personally tailored and delivered at just the right time. Whether it was words of encouragement or fixing a broken swing, he knew exactly what was needed to make life a little bit better. Furthermore, Papa fought for his family through every medical condition, setback, and loss. He knew how to make things “just right” the right way. And when he couldn’t, he set the example for tolerance, coping and acceptance. Beset with Addison’s Disease (a rare adrenal disorder), Papa fought to keep life a wonderful experience. His will to live was fierce. He was our hero. And through the grace of God, he passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by family, at the age of 82.


Gene is survived by his wife Annette Watson; sons Randy Elrod, Terry Elrod, and Jeffrey Watson (+Wendy); daughters, Vickie King (+Tim) and Cheryl Bird (+Daniel); grandchildren, Michael Elrod (+Melissa), Crystal Robertson (+Chris), Kirk Smithey, Cagney Elrod, Dr. Ashleé Miller, Michael Watson (+Jennifer Watson) and Justin Watson (+Kristin); and great-grandchildren, Austin Elrod, Brady Elrod, Owen Robertson, Carson Robertson, Rhett Watson, Seniah Harding, Isaiah Word, Maddix Harding, Jackson Griffin, and Ava Griffin. He is preceded in death by his mother, Mattie Watson and grandson, Chuck Smithey.


The family will receive visitors at Wilkerson Funeral Home on Thursday, February 24th, 6pm-8pm. A full graveside service with military honors will begin at 3pm on Friday, February 25th, 2022 at Reidlawn Cemetery with Dr. Ron Tuck officiating.



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Past Services


Thursday, February 24, 2022

6:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

Wilkerson Funeral Home and Crematory

1909 Richardson Dr, Reidsville, NC 27320

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Graveside Service

Friday, February 25, 2022

Starts at 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

With Military Honors

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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