James Francis Watts, Memorial Mass planned

NEW YORK CITY — Resident Professor of History, Dean Emeritus of the Humanities and Arts, and native Oswegonian James Francis Watts, one of the longest serving members of the faculty of The City College of New York, succumbed to prostate cancer after a 10-year struggle on Oct. 16, 2007, at the age of 72.

He was a resident of Manhattan, New York City.

A 1953 graduate of Oswego High School, “Gunner” Watts rose through faculty and administrative ranks at CCNY from 1965 when he joined the Department of History as a beginning assistant professor, to 2005, when he retired after having served five years as President Gregory H. Williams’ Dean of the Division of Humanities and the Arts, the largest academic unit of the college.

During his 40-year career at CCNY he was promoted from assistant to associate, then full, and then resident professor and served as chairman of the Department of History from 1984 to 1994.

He authored and co-authored several volumes on comparative world civilizations and on the American presidency.

His estate hopes posthumously to publish a volume of his essays on political and cultural topics, including his award winning series of articles on American presidential elections during the 1880s.

Former CCNY President Bernard Harleston once noted that he could not recall a major endeavor at The City College that had happened without the leadership of Jim Watts.

At his retirement Watts himself commented, “I have spent more than half of my life at my beloved City College, still the most significant vehicle of upward mobility in the world’s greatest city.”

Dr. Watts was the eldest son of James F. and Mary Hughes Watts, who operated a drug store in Oswego for 40 years, and where their children all graduated from local schools.

He is survived by his wife, Pamela, an assistant principal in the New York City public schools; his children, Jennifer and Nathaniel, both of San Francisco; his brothers, Michael and Patrick, of Bethlehem, Pa. and Liverpool, respectively; his sister, Sr. Marianne Watts OP of New York City; and numerous nieces and nephews.

The family has requested that any memorials be made to the American Cancer Society, to The Simon H. Rifkind Center at the City College of New York or to donors’ favorite charities.

A Memorial Mass will be held 10 a.m. Saturday (May 29, 2010) in St. Mary’s Church.

Burial will be in St. Peter’s Cemetery.

Family and friends are invited to Vona’s Restaurant following cemetery services.

Arrangements are by the Dain-Cullinan Funeral Home.