Former Utah National Guard

Adjutant General Passes Away

 

Written by Matthew LaPlante, Salt Lake Tribune

Reprinted by permission

 

Published November 30, 2006

       

 

Maj. Gen. Maurice Watts served as adjutant general of the Utah National Guard from 1964 to 1980.

Photo courtesy of the Utah National Guard

Maj. Gen. Maurice Watts served as adjutant general

of the Utah National Guard from 1964 to 1980.

SALT LAKE CITY He defined his life by service.
 

Maurice Watts, former adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, was remembered Nov. 25 in Cottonwood Heights.
 

Watts died Nov. 17 at the age of 89, ending a life crowned by his 16-year term as Utah's top soldier, though not solely defined by it. Many knew Watts not as a decorated warrior but as advocate for disabled children, volunteer at the ballet and champion for the cause of eliminating cancer.
 

While Watts understood service to others could be individually and spiritually fulfilling, he also understood personally the sacrifices it could entail.
 

His military career began in 1941. Three years later he participated in the amphibious landing at Lingayen Gulf on the Island of Luzon - an early battle in the retaking of the Philippine Islands, a task for which thousands of U.S. and allied troops gave their lives.
 

Decades later, Watts would bury his own son, Cory, after the young missionary died in an accident while serving a church mission in California.
 

Watts' son, Brad, remembered his father as a man who understood that service was hard, yet pushed ahead regardless - always with a positive attitude toward the task at hand and never seeking recognition or gratitude.
 

The Utah Army National Guard Honor Guard prepares to fold the flag to present to Maj. Gen. Watts' family.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

The Utah Army National Guard Honor Guard prepares

to fold the flag to present to Maj. Gen. Watts' family.

"He worked hard doing simple things to make life beautiful," Brad Watts said. "He did many things, in his community, to strengthen and to build."

 

Another son, Todd, said that although his father's military stature was impressive - Maurice Watts was the only Utah National Guard soldier ever to hold the rank of lieutenant general - he was not content to allow that to be his only legacy.
 

After his retirement from the Army in 1980, Watts sought out other ways to improve the welfare of his family and community, taking the directorship of the Utah Society for Crippled Children and Adults and volunteering at Ballet West and the American Cancer Society.
 

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he served in local and regional leadership roles and as a mission president in Sydney, Australia.
 

Though he never sought recognition for his service, he often thanked others for their service.
 

The Utah Air National Guard Honor Guard prepares to fire the ceremonial volleys in tribute to Maj. Gen. Watts.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

The Utah Air National Guard Honor Guard prepares to

fire the ceremonial volleys in tribute to Maj. Gen. Watts.

His last known words, to a 12-year-old girl who came to visit him, were words of thanks, family members said.
 

In a prayer offered during the service, grandson Zane Watts suggested his grandfather would best be remembered by those who took up his cause of selfless service.
 

"We can honor him," Zane Watts said, "by doing the things he did in this life: Serving others and filling up those around him."

 

 

Three AH-64 Apache helicopters from the 1-211th Aviation Battalion fly over the final resting place of retired Maj. Gen. Maurice Watts.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Three AH-64 Apache helicopters from the 1-211th Aviation Battalion

fly over the final resting place of retired Maj. Gen. Maurice Watts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Utah National Guard Retired Col. Kim Watts places his boutonniere on Maj. Gen. Watts' casket before rendering a final hand salute to his father.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Utah National Guard Retired Col. Kim Watts places his boutonniere on Maj. Gen. Watts' casket before rendering a final hand salute to his father.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A young Watts family member follows the honor guard and plays a drum salute to Maj. Gen. Watts.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

A young Watts family member follows the honor

guard and plays a drum salute to Maj. Gen. Watts.

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, Utah National Guard Adjutant General, presents a flag to Todd Watts in honor of his father's military service.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, Utah National Guard Adjutant General, presents a flag to Todd Watts in honor of his father's military service.