William “Billy” Duane Watkins Jr. left us unexpectedly, and our hearts are broken as we try to live our lives without him.
He was born in Longview, WA on January 11, 1975, to Dr. William Watkins and Marlene Mezger-Dewey.
His youth was spent playing backyard football, basketball, volleyball, and whiffle ball with family and friends. His dad eventually installed flood lights as games usually went into the early hours of the morning. He played intense games of HORSE on the backyard court with his sisters and dad. Billy hosted regular poker nights at the Watkins house where the players were served his unending hysterical smart-assery and his mom’s famous five bean chili! Billy enjoyed taking trips to Reno and Vegas with his dad and brothers, and we’ve heard tall tales about the golfing and gambling that occurred.
He graduated from RA Long High School in 1993 and went on to have amazing work experiences as a cook for the LA Dodgers, Texas Rangers, and Seattle Mariners. He considered it an honor that he was able to work for Tommy Lasorda and Maury Wills. The menus he created were inspired by food from family celebrations and he grew in his craft through continual experimentations with flavors and recipes. He and his brother Jim battled it out for the best mac and cheese, and our family loved being the testers!
He was an avid Oakland Raiders fan and never wavered in his support when they moved to LA or Vegas. He was also a HUGE LA Lakers fan and could share stats and standings at the drop of a hat. While staying true to his teams, he expanded his allegiances and grew to be a Portland Trailblazer and Seattle Seahawks fan. He created unforgettable memories with his friends traveling and attending games.
Billy was an outstanding basketball player, a fierce competitor, and a great teammate. Opponents would initially underestimate him, but Billy was a smart point guard who schooled many seasoned players in city league and pick-up games at the “Y”. He was a creative passer who could see lanes and openings like no other. He expected his teammates to be ready for his passes and if not, you might get a ball to the back of the head. He was a skilled shooter with range. When an opposing player talked trash, he would respond by exploiting their weakness and land shots with finesse and class, and then he might add an enlightening comment!
Billy also loved playing golf, and he amassed a group of friends that had become like family. He carried a 14-handicap at Mint Valley and recorded his first hole-in-one in 2021! That same year, he and his teammate won the net division of the annual two-player Member-Member tournament.
He excelled at cooking and comedy and people radiated to him as he accepted everyone unconditionally and without judgement.
He was preceded in death by his sister, Tamala Rae Watkins, Aunt Melinda Walz (Mezger), grandparents Walter and Shirley Mezger, John and Helen Anderson, and Bud Watkins.
He is survived by his parents Dr. William D. Watkins and Marlene Mezger-Dewey (Duane); brothers Ken (Deonna), and Jim Watkins; sisters Shari Hynning (Ron), Marcy Gilchrist (Brian); nieces and nephews Jerad (Teryn) Hynning, Kelsey (Stephen) Goodstein, Kendelynn Watkins, Danielle, Madison and Mackenzie Gilchrist. Bill had numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, two grandnephews and one grandniece.
The family invites you to join them for a Celebration of Billy’s life March 12th at 2-6pm at the Longview Country Club. We ask that you wear team colors or gear from the teams he followed. Please continue to share stories on his Facebook page (Bill Watkins Jr.) as his family truly appreciates reading the stories of love, laughter, and fun that always came from being around Billy.