Gloria Dittrich Watkins was born on January 21, 1926 and passed away on November 19, 2019 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
Gloria was born in Garfield, NJ and attended Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ. Upon graduation, she attended Eastern Nazarene College in Wollaston, MA where she graduated in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in education. On June 2 of that year, she married Lawrence Watkins and moved to his home state of Ohio.
Gloria’s family started in Cleveland, OH where Susan was born, and continued in Farmington where Amy was born. It was there in Farmington that Gloria taught kindergarten and first grade until her retirement in the mid 1980’s. It was unusual during that era for women to hold jobs outside the home, but she was not deterred – her calling was to teach children and she loved doing that.
With her husband Larry, a school principal, the family spent their summers off traveling and vacationing across the country. From cabins in Maine and Vermont, to camping and crosscountry travel including Canada, these vacations became the most anticipated time of the year. Later in life Gloria traveled with Larry to England and Ireland along with her sister and brotherin-law, Betty and Arthur Hughes. These trips most often included extended Watkins and Hughes families, and are still the discussion of family gatherings today. Their daughters (and grandchildren) inherited the love of travel, and have visited most of the US states, Canadian provinces, and many world countries.
After her death, many former students have posted on social media: “Mrs. Watkins was my first-grade teacher, and forever a favorite (even if she got my ankle once with her ruler)!”; “Mrs. Watkins always told us to take off our coats in winter so that when we went back out they’d be warm.”; “Mrs. Watkins touched many lives and will be missed.”; “Mrs. Watkins will forever be my favorite teacher!”
At home, Gloria was an accomplished seamstress. She enjoyed general sewing and crossstitching, but her joy was making night gowns and pajamas for the family Christmas gifts. And her Slovak ethnicity led to creating and preparing some of the dishes that remain family favorites today – hot dogs and green peppers, potato soup, latkes, beef stew, and a special collection of Christmas cookies.
Gloria was a member of the South Weymouth Church of the Nazarene at the time of her death. Prior to that she held memberships at Augusta (ME) First Church of the Nazarene, Champion (OH) Church of the Nazarene (where they were founding members), and Bolindale (OH) Church of the Nazarene. She along with her husband Larry were life-long members of Nazarene churches, always supporting and praying for their pastors and friends.
Gloria was preceded in death by her husband, Lawrence Watkins, February 5th, 2009; also by her sister, Betty Hughes and her husband, Arthur Hughes, in 2016. She is survived by her daughter Susan Watkins, Quincy, MA, daughter Amy Watkins Barnard and her husband Rev. Bruce Barnard of New York, NY, granddaughter Elizabeth Barnard of Nashville, TN, and grandson Dr. David Barnard of Philadelphia, PA. She is also survived by her half-sister Doris Campbell, half-brother John DeLeo, and stepsister Marjorie McCallum.
The family would like to extend their grateful thanks to the staff and volunteers at Sunrise of Braintree where Mrs. Watkins spent her last years and Ascend Hospice who cared for her these past months. The aides and staff made her days enjoyable, and she was able to have visits with family and friends (and family pets).
A Christian funeral will be held at 3PM on Sunday, December 1st, 2019, at the South Weymouth Church of the Nazarene, 385 Ralph Talbot Street, South Weymouth, MA, with reception for guests to greet the family immediately following. Family graveside burial will be Monday, December 2nd, 2019 at the National Cemetery in Bourne, MA at 11AM.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Eastern Nazarene College, Class of 1948 Scholarship Fund at ECAS Class of 1948.
Copy and paste link for online donations: https://giving.enc.edu/s/1828/17/interior.aspx?cid=1105&gid=2&pgid=420&sid=1828&dids=81
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