Centenarian was village postman

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William (Willie) Thomas Watson, who passed away at the age of 100, was a highly respected member of the community in Tempo, County Fermanagh.

Born on August 13, 1918, at the family farmstead at Ballyreagh near Tempo, he was the second son of Joseph and Margret Watson and one of a family of ten children.

He had three brothers – Wesley, Edmund and Eric – and six sisters; Gretta, Olive, Irene, Emma, Marjorie and Mary.

He was educated at Ballyreagh School, Tempo, a country school which was sited in a picturesque area of County Fermanagh on high ground that looked out over the rolling fields to the valley below and with Topped Mountain in the distance.

His younger years were spent in Ballyreagh until the mid-1930s when the family moved to another farmstead at Mullyknock, also near Tempo. Willie Watson helped out on the family farm and other local farms as well, and his great love of farming always remained with him.

It was noteworthy that he was still cutting small areas of grass with a scythe to make hay well into the mid-1990s.

In the 1930s, he joined the Ulster Special Constabulary (F Platoon) in Tempo Sub District and served as Special Constable No F/7376 until his retirement on September 30, 1958.

He would recount that his duties involved attending drill nights in Tempo, carrying out check points and patrols in his local area. He also made many trips to shoot at Cornafanog Range in Lisbellaw. 

For his faithful service in the Ulster Special Constabulary, he was awarded the Ulster Special Constabulary Long Service Medal. During the Second World War he also joined the Ulster Home Guard, serving in its ranks until the end of the war in 1945, for which he was awarded the Defence Medal. 

William was always thinking of the family at home and while out on patrols he would have popped into the home to check that everything was okay.

During this period he also came into contact with the American army, who were training in Topped Mountain in the Mullyknock area. 

During the war, the government introduced a compulsory acreage scheme and William was also the eldest member of the family at home helping to produce five acres of food for the war effort every year, growing corn, potatoes and flax.

In 1946, he began a long association with Ballyreagh Orange Lodge No 876, being initiated into the lodge on July 2 that year in time for the Twelfth demonstration at Enniskillen.

After the war, he took up employment with the post office and was a familiar figure around Tempo delivering the mail and parcels by bike.

The bicycle was generally his main mode of transport and he was often to be spotted around the townlands of Mullyknock/Topped Mountain, Ballyreagh, Feddens, Pubble and beyond, on his bicycle with cap and his bicycle clips. 

His brother Eric bought a smallholding at Ratoran in 1966 and William and his sister Olive lived there until 1996 when they moved to Main Street in Tempo.

During his time at Ratoran, Willie farmed a small holding of cattle with his brother, Eric. He did not travel much outside County Fermanagh, but did make a trip to England to visit a neighbour from Pubble who had moved to the Midlands area and he also turned up at his brother Wesley’s house in Nottingham, which very much surprised him and his brother Eric who was staying with him at the time.

Willie Watson never liked goodbyes and it was recalled that he left early one morning to return home before anyone else had risen. 

Throughout his life he enjoyed attended the Trasna Prayer meetings with his sister Olive every Tuesday night, and also attended Tempo Methodist Church. He also enjoyed his brother Eric taking him to Tempo once a week to lift his pension and get his groceries. On a weekly basis he would have travelled to Enniskillen with his cousin, the late William Nixon, or caught the bus at Ballyreagh cross on a Thursday which was market day.

He had a great love for flowers and knowledge of growing vegetables, especially rhubarb and cabbage. 

William always dressed well; jacket, shirt, shoes highly polished and his full head of hair well-groomed and always carrying a comb in his jacket pocket.

In his early 80s he suffered much pain with his hips but in 1982 he had both hips replaced and this gave him a new lease of life.

In his later life, while in the Gillbrooke Nursing Home at Clabby he looked forward to his family coming to chat about the country life and enjoyed looking at old family photos. 

He loved having his great nephews and nieces visiting him and thoroughly enjoyed his great nephew Jack Thomas, who shared his birthday, coming to visit him for the last nine years to share the annual celebration, blowing out the candles together and getting his photo taken. In August of this year, William reached the grand age of 100 and he enjoyed this party with his family, especially the cake, and laughed at the children doing the latest 2018 dance,The Floss, for him, something which produced a trademark big smile from the centenarian.

Willie’s nephew Stephen Watson, who provided a tribute for the funeral service of his uncle, said that anyone who worked with Willie Watson commented that he was a very hard worker, who would make light work of building rucks of hay, or ploughing an acre of land a day with horse and plough.

He also ploughed areas, such as steep hills, where tractors of the day could not operate.mOne of his sayings to the family was that you ‘always need your neighbours, you just do not know when’.

Willie Watson’s funeral service took place at Tempo Methodist Church, with interment in the Tempo Parish Churchyard. Donations in lieu of flowers were encouraged to Tempo Methodist Church. Funeral arrangements were by SR Elliott and Sons, funeral directors, Enniskillen.He is survived by his brother Eric and sister Mary, as well as a wide family circle.