Those in attendance at the Watkins family reunion included (l-r): Cathy Willhite, Tom Willhite, Kelly Kirkpatrick, Anne Kirkpatrick (seated,) Chris Parker, Susan Rudosky, Jim Rudosky, Don Watkins, Eric Watkins, Ann Watkins, Gregg Aten, Denice Aten, Becky Dugan, Wayne Aten, Jo Merrily King, Bev Norman, Dale Workman, Bonnie Workman, Kenneth Jacobson, Teri Jacobson, Doug Sexson, Dolores Sexson, Jim Jacobson, Linda Crandall, Mike Jacobson, Sara Watkins (holding Caden,) Shari Sexson, Joel Watkins (holding Skylar,) Anita Watkins, Dennis Watkins, Karen Watkins. Not pictured: Don Broughton and Casey Willhite.
72nd Watkins family reunion held
On Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017, Watkins descendants gathered in a city park picnic shelter in Grant, Neb., to enjoy a carry-in meal and renewing of family friendships.
This was the 72nd annual reunion of family descendants since the end of WWII era when Watkins families gathered on Nov. 4, 1945 at the Legion Hall in Venango, Neb.
Ever since then the reunions have been held at the Grant City Park. For many years now the yearly date has been the second Sunday in August.
This year, prior to the Sunday reunion, there were two smaller family gatherings for grave side committal of remains services to honor the lives of two “well-loved family members” who had passed away this year.
The life of Howard Watkins of Oregon was honored with full military services at Ft. McPherson cemetery near Maxwell, Neb., on Friday Aug. 11.
Howard was the fourth of seven children born to Emery and Jani (Broughton) Watkins of Venango, Neb. Howard served in the Air Force for 30 years and was 102 years and 6 months old at his death.
Local Grant resident Dolores Sexson is Howard’s sister.
Three of Howard’s four children came from Virginia and Oregon to Grant for the weekend, as they often do.
The next day, Saturday, Aug. 12, residents of Grant joined Watkins and Aten family members at the Grant Cemetery to honor the life of Barbara (Watkins) Aten and also remember Terry Aten (son of Wayne and Barbara Aten).
Wayne and Barbara ran a family clothing store in Grant, Neb., from 1968-1982, when they moved to Goodland, Kan., to run their clothing store there.
Wayne and Barbara moved to Lincoln, Neb., in 2016. Barbara (the daughter of Ross and Lillie Watkins) was 88 when she passed away June 22, 2017 in Lincoln.
Wayne Aten and son Gregg and his wife Denice Aten, all of Lincoln attended the Watkins reunion Sunday in the park.
On Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017 at noon, 35 Watkins relatives and friends attended the annual Watkins picnic fellowship in the Grant park, marking the 72nd Watkins Reunion.
2017 Reunion Celebrations:
Emery’s family had the largest group (14,) Ora and also Clarence’s groups each had six members, Ross’ and Elmer’s branches had three members each, plus guests.
Dolores (Watkins) Sexson of Grant, Neb., was the oldest in attendance. She will be 97 on Aug. 22, 2017.
Longest Marriages: Wayne and Barbara (Watkins) Aten had been married 70 years when Barbara passed away. Dale and Bonnie Workman of California were in attendance and will celebrate 47 years of marriage on Sept. 12, 2017.
The youngest married couple present was Joel and Sara Watkins of rural Venango, Neb., married five years. Their two children were the youngest present: Skylar Belle Watkins, age 2 years, 2 months and Caden Scott Watkins, age 3 months (born May 8, 2017 in Grant, Neb., hospital.)
The recognition of “greatest distance traveled to the reunion” was difficult to judge this year, since nearly half of the 35 attendees were from other states than Nebraska.
There were three “Watkins cousins” who traveled here from Oregon, five from California, two from Virginia, one from Texas, five from Colorado, and a family friend, Don Broughton from Arizona.
The next Watkins family reunion will be the second Sunday in August 2018, which will be Aug. 12, 2018 at the park in Grant, Perkins County, Nebraska.