Neill P. Watson III, 69, W&M psychology professor emeritus

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Neill P. Watson III
Neill P. Watson III

Neill P. Watson III, 69, professor emeritus of psychology at The College of William & Mary and faculty member for 32 years, died on Nov. 10, 2016, after a short illness.

Respected as a teacher, colleague and administrator, Neill focused on clinical psychology in dozens of scholarly papers and convention presentations that he wrote and co-authored. His research explored Rogerian theories of psychotherapy and ways to measure discrepencies in people’s self-concepts. He taught courses including advanced abnormal psychology and phenomenological approaches to psychotherapy. For the last 20 years of his tenure, he was the William & Mary representative on the Council of Directors for the Virginia Consortium of Clinical Psychology. In that role, he was instrumental in providing oversight and direction for the consortium’s graduate program leading to the doctorate in clinical psychology.

Neill was born on Feb. 27, 1947, in Newport News, Va., where his father worked in the shipyard following World War II. Growing up in Raleigh, N.C., he became an Eagle Scout, enjoyed acting in high school musicals and excelled academically. He earned his undergraduate degree at Yale University summa cum laude and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his doctorate in clinical psychology at Harvard University.

“A philosopher at heart,” as one of his children described him, Neill taught his students – and his children – to view the world with a critical eye, to ask probing questions about what they observed, to persist in seeking answers and to stay dedicated to reasoned thought. He was known to be conscientious in everything he did.

Out of the classroom, Neill loved music and played guitar and sang in the Jazz/R&B band “Silver.” An accomplished arranger, he arranged all the music the group performed, frequently devising complicated chord and key changes. He was an avid swimmer and could often be found at the gym churning up the pool. His wry sense of humor and quick wit, delivered with a twinkle in his eye, were wont to leave family and friends chortling in amazement. Quiet, deeply held spiritual beliefs led him to The Mattaponi Friends Meeting (Quakers), where he was treasurer for many years.

Neill was predeceased by his father, Neill Pat Watson Jr. and mother, Violet Kerr Watson. A devoted and loving father, he leaves behind four children, Anna Ruth Cory-Watson of New York, N.Y., Damon Thayer Cory-Watson of Durham, N.C., Adam Zachary Watson, of New York and Gavin Kerr Watson of Williamsburg, Va.; and two grandchildren; Violet Jeanne Cory Costello and Desmond David Watson Costello.

The family would like to thank Alice Twining who, with unerring patience and attention, helped them care for Neill during his final illness. A Quaker memorial service will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 3051 Ironbound Rd., Williamsburg, on Saturday, Nov. 19, at 4 p.m. The family welcomes flowers if friends are led to send them. Neill’s memory may also be honored with a donation to The American Friends Service Committee. Online condolences may be shared at www.bucktroutfuneralhome.net.