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John W. Watson, Jr.

John W. Watson, Jr.

The thing I enjoy most about my calling as an attorney is the opportunity it gives me to share the experiences of others and to make a positive difference. When I started college at UNC Chapel Hill, I had planned to become a doctor. But two struggling semesters of college chemistry ended any medical ambitions I had. When I was 19, a spinal cord injury introduced me to the areas of motor vehicle wrecks and negligence. After I finished college, I worked for a time in the area of mental health and interacted with clients and the court system. At that time we had lots of patients with psychological problems who ended up with criminal charges and numbers who were committed to institutions because there was no help for them in the community. As I saw the challenges these folks faced, I decided I might be able to help them more if I became a lawyer. I graduated from the Campbell University School of Law in 1982 and have been practicing in North Carolina ever since.

I believe I am a better attorney because I have always enjoyed helping people. With the mental health work and other experiences before becoming an attorney, I have the ability to connect with people from all backgrounds. Starting out as a general practice attorney in a small town, I have had a great diversity of cases. One of the biggest for my community was when a Hazardous Waste Incinerator was about to be sited South of Oxford. Along with most other attorneys we successfully opposed the incinerator with multiple lawsuits against the company and the State of North Carolina. Other notable lawsuits have included representing affected landowners who suffered blasting damage from a neighboring quarry and, also, the family of a man who was badly injured by a headache ball while operating a defective construction crane.

My father is big hero of mine. He began a medical career during World War II as a medical corpsman. After medical school he chose to practice medicine in rural Granville County in the 1950s. It was always my impression that my father was more dedicated to his profession and serving his patients and community than the money it could bring. He took on difficult positions such as public housing when many poor homes had no plumbing. He knew "we are all in this together."

My outside hobbies or interests include collecting Indian artifacts, canoeing, fishing and work/mission trips in Central America with the Rotary Club and St. Stephens Episcopal Church. I have two sons, one a surgeon and the other in graduate school. During their growing years, I learned the humility that comes with knowing that beyond a point we cannot protect the ones we love most. In seeing their achievements from Eagle Scout to M.D. and PhD it is my judgment that sensitivity to others with high expectations, manners and hard work, are the universal elements for success.

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