Frank Lee Watson Jr. performed a vital role in just one of the most significant developments in modern day Memphis.
Performing alongside Fred Smith, the law firm was instrumental in locating Smith’s impressive new shipping and delivery organization — then acknowledged as Federal Specific — in Memphis.
“He was Fred’s proper-hand male for really a while in the early times,” explained Watson’s son, Frank Watson III, also a Memphis attorney.
Frank Lee Watson Jr., 81, died Aug. 25 of all-natural leads to at his Midtown home.
Active right up until the conclusion, he had planned a bike ride with his son in Overton Park for that working day, and had scheduled a fly-fishing holiday vacation in Yellowstone Nationwide Park for afterwards in the 12 months.
An influential attorney who labored at some of Memphis’ most historic corporations and represented numerous significant clients, Watson was a dynamic determine within or outdoors of a courtroom. An obituary prepared by the family outlined as survivors not just users of his quick relatives but “‘Treat,’ his all-time favored black Labrador a couple loose, unchewed cigars a couple of ex-wives and a person teary-eyed bartender.”
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, (his mom, Julia Randell Watson, was a schoolteacher, whilst his father, Frank Watson Sr., was a “wildcat” oil explorer), Watson was an only baby whose early mates provided Small League teammates from the Chippewa tribe near the North Dakota oil town the place the household expended aspect of Watson’s youth.
A veteran of Environment War II, Watson attended the University of Arkansas on the G.I. Invoice, then gained a regulation degree from Tulane College Law University in New Orleans.
Training legislation in Little Rock, he labored alongside William Neal Carter, who helped the Rolling Stones enter the U.S. after some band members’ drug woes threatened their get the job done visas.
In Tiny Rock, Watson befriended Fred Smith, the visionary Memphis entrepreneur who originally planned to foundation his Federal Express operations out of Arkansas.
When Small Rock airport authorities balked, Watson “threw caution to the wind,” according to his son, and moved to Memphis to depict Smith. He turned a husband or wife at the venerable Waring Cox legislation agency, which effectively secured landing legal rights for FedEx at Memphis Global Airport and took the enterprise public.
“He was a fantastic lawyer, good human being, and fantastic good friend all over his everyday living,” mentioned Smith in a assertion, confirming that Watson “did essential and consequential legal and regulatory function for FedEx in our early times.”
Specializing in small business regulation, Watson later moved to one more storied firm, Baker Donelson. He retired in 2019, soon after decades of symbolizing the interests of these influential Memphis figures as Gary Shorb (CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, to title only just one of his work opportunities) Willard Sparks (Sparks Providers agribusiness) and Brad Martin (previous businessman and Republican politician).
Outside the house the legal arena, Watson was a organization trader in his possess proper. He was element-operator of the Memphis Rogues, the specialist soccer team that operated from 1978 to 1980. A short while ago, he aided start the Memphis-based mostly B.R. Distilling Co., producers of Blue Note Straight Bourbon Whiskey and its affiliated labels (Blue Take note Crossroads, Blue Note Juke Joint Uncut, and so on).
“His zest for experience was unparalleled,” explained Frank Watson III, citing his father’s enthusiasm for climbing, biking, snow-skiing and a large wide range of actions.
He explained a partial litany of his father’s enthusiasms would include fly fishing shotgun taking pictures coaching pet dogs for industry trials cattle farming in Mississippi commodities-buying and selling exhibiting “chopping horses” in competitors sailing looking at and storytelling — he was “a raconteur of the 1st order.”
In addition to his son, Frank Watson III, Watson leaves one more son, Robert L. Watson, of Memphis a daughter, Elizabeth Nona Watson of Very hot Springs, Arkansas his companion, Virginia “Ginger” Acuff and two grandchildren, Julia L. Watson and William Frank Watson.
Visitation is set for 5-7 p.m. Sept. 1 at Canale Funeral Directors, 2700 Union Ave Ext. A assistance will acquire area at 10 a.m. Sept. 2 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 3863 Summertime.
The household asks that any donations be produced to the All 4s Rescue League, an organization that rescues deserted pet dogs and supplies training and other providers for pet proprietors.