In Memoriam: Oregon Shores Leader Howard Watkins

Howard and Marguerite Watkins in Bandon.
Howard and Marguerite Watkins in Bandon.

We’re saddened to report the death of Howard Watkins, a principal figure in Oregon Shores’ history.  For more than two decades, from the ‘70s into the early years of this century, he served the organization as president, treasurer, and in many other roles.  During much of that time, until her death in 1999, his wife, Marguerite Watkins, also played important leadership roles with Oregon Shores.  The Watkins’ were also prominent civic activists in Coos Bay.

It says much about Howard that his death, at 102, came as a shock.  He remained vigorous and keen of mind until the end.  He had suffered a fall shortly before his death, but appeared to be rapidly recovering before dying unexpectedly.

Howard Watkins was a retired Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, and had a lifelong romance with flying (he celebrated his 100th birthday by soloing in a biplane).  His distinguished military career took him and his family (including son Eric, himself an Oregon Shores board member for a number of years) to many locations around the world.  After he retired from the Air Force in 1965, he received his Masters in Education from the University of Nebraska. The family’s final move was to Coos Bay in 1968; Howard taught science in Coquille, and both he and Marguerite became involved in a variety of public interest activities.

The Watkins led Oregon Shores through many battles in defense of the coastal environment and our public beaches.  During the ‘80s, a period that fell between Oregon Shores’ founding generation and a phalanx of younger board members who became active in the ‘90s, both Howard and Marguerite were the essential linchpins that kept the organization going. 

For more on Howard Watkins’ life, see this obituary in the Eugene Register Guard.

We mourn Howard’s passing, but we are honored to have benefited from his active leadership for many years.  The Oregon coast and all who love it are much the better for the work of both Howard and Marguerite Watkins.  We are all the more honored that the Watkins family chose to make Oregon Shores the beneficiary of memorial gifts in Howard’s name.