Fishing 01

Don Ray Watson

May 15, 1939 ~ June 25, 2021 (age 82)


Don Ray Watson of Gatlinburg TN fought a good fight, finished his course, and kept the faith right up until the very moment he left this world Friday morning June 25th, 2021.

Only those closest to him know how much Don Ray struggled recently to do the most basic things, and yet he never quit nor gave up. He found no stopping place until that morning that Jesus called him.    

He was a man who had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  He told his family, “The Lord has been really good to me. My cup is running over, and I’ve been double blessed.” He loved his church family with all his heart. The only fear or regret he had was, as he said, “I don’t know how long I can keep going to church.”  

Don Ray was born May 15, 1939 to Rev Richard and Alice Watson, saved and baptized at a young age. He was an exceptional athlete while attending Pi Beta Phi High School. Basketball and Football were his favorites. He was a tough, gritty player no matter the sport. He was the leading scorer in basketball for the state of TN one year and had offers to play college ball in both football and basketball. However, as Carol Ann said, “getting married was the only thing they could think about.”  

Married September 1st, 1960, Don Ray and Carol Ann would have celebrated their 61st anniversary this year. A more perfect match could never be found. They lived, loved, traveled, fished, played, laughed, worshiped together all those wonderful years. And someday because of one man, Jesus Christ, they will be together again in glory.

Don Ray has repaired many many people’s cars while owning his garage in Gatlinburg. If he couldn’t fix it, it couldn’t be fixed. Many of Sevier County’s school children have ridden on a bus that Don Ray turned a wrench on while finishing his career at the Sevier County Schools’ bus garage. It was there where he retired, but he never put away his tools.

If not around a garage he was with his friends catching crappie on Douglas Lake or Lake Weiss, Alabama. Trout were in danger whenever he was around the stream. And if he wasn’t fishing, he was telling tales about fishing. 

Time and space will not allow us to mention all the special people in his life. I have a feeling that if you are one of those special people you know it. 

Don Ray was preceded in death by parents, Richard and Alice Watson, brothers, Richard Jr and Clayton Watson, and sister Hazel Cantrell.  

Survived by Wife, Carol Ann and Son, Gregory and wife Sharon and Don Ray’s grandchildren: Ashleigh, Austin, Avery and Aiden.  Special Brother-in-law Robert Lawson and wife Donna.

Also survived by his Sisters, Velma Pressley, Frankie Priddy and brother, Clellon Watson. Along with many very loved nieces and nephews.

The family will be receiving friends on Tuesday, June 29th at Glades Lebanon Baptist Church between 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Funeral service immediately following with Mitch Ayers and Greg Watson presiding. Burial will follow at Shiloh Memorial Cemetery in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Honorary pallbearers:  Robert Lawson, Bob McCay, Herbert Reagan & Larry Valentine

Pallbearers: Ronnie Cardwell, Danny Ellis, Ken Jenkins, Ted Myers, Gerald Ray, John Walker, Austin Watson, and Clellon Watson

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Don Ray’s church, Glades Lebanon Baptist Church, 820 E Highland Drive, Gatlinburg, TN 37738.  Condolences can be made at


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