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Leon Watson passes

December 1, 2017

St. Louis, MO - - Leon Watson passes

   Obituary: Watson remembered as officiating giant



Whether someone played, coached or officiated high school or club softball in St. Louis sometime in the past three decades, they likely came into contact with Leon Watson.

And no matter who you ask, everyone was better for having done so.

Watson, 67, who had a 35-year career umpiring softball and baseball and officiating basketball and football throughout the area, died Nov. 23. He will be remembered at 10 a.m. Saturday with a visitation and then a 11 a.m. funeral service at the Tiffany A. Smith Life Memorial Centre in Overland.

Greg Pohl, the umpire in chief for USA Softball in St. Louis, remembered Watson fondly.

“Leon has been a great friend and umpiring colleague for many years, and we've always enjoyed ourselves on and off the diamond,” Pohl said. “Losing someone with his abilities and love for the game will not only be missed by myself, but also by the many other lives he touched so often. St. Louis truly lost a great person, someone who loved and respected the game, and always went out and gave his very best. He will be dearly missed.”

Watson was the deputy fast pitch umpire in chief for USA Softball of St. Louis. He began his career in 1982 and umpired nearly every level of softball, from local high school and club contests to events as big as national championship contests.

In 2015, Watson was honored as a USA Softball Elite umpire, an honor bestowed on the top 0.5-percent of USA Softball umpires.

Fellow umpire Bill Buchanan said the loss of Watson has left a hole in the St. Louis umpiring community and, to a larger extent, the softball community itself.

“As the assignor for the majority of all high school baseball and softball games played in the St. Louis area, the quality of his work will truly be missed,” Buchanan said. “But more importantly, his leadership, experience, and commitment to better training officials, cannot be replaced.  At a time when it has become harder and harder to find people interested in officiating, the St. Louis area has lost a great official, mentor, and a true class act.”

Buchanan added that while softball and baseball officiating were passions of Watson, they were only part of the complete package of who the man was.

There wasn't a sport Watson didn't work at as an official to make better for all involved, Buchanan said.

“I had the privilege of meeting Leon when he first started working MSHSAA events more than 35 years ago,” Buchanan said. “Leon's dedication to his officiating career, and his commitment to better serving the high school athletes will be truly missed. Leon always was pushing officials to be better prepared, no matter which sport they worked. He officiated area high school baseball, football, basketball, as well as, his true passion — softball. Leon excelled at each sport that he chose to work, having officiated several MSHSAA state finals.”