John Robert Watkins of Price, Utah, passed away shortly after midnight on February 21, 2023 at the Utah Valley Hospital with his wife and son by his side.
John was born on January 6, 1942, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania to John and Ruth Watkins. It was in the woods surrounding the family farm that his love for hunting, fishing, nature and the outdoors began.
He graduated from South Williamsport Area High School in 1960, where he wrestled and played football and became a Light Scout. John obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Lock Haven State College in 1964, where his wrestling career continued and flourished, wrestling alongside Olympians and some of the world’s best.
John began his teaching career at South Williamsport High School, and then moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1965 where he taught at Bridger Junior High School and Von Toble Junior High School while obtaining his Master’s degree from Northern Arizona University in 1968. He then accepted a position as a science teacher at Western High School, where he remained for 25 years, teaching biology and zoology, among other subjects, all while coaching middle school and high school wrestling, gymnastics, and teaching night school. John was recognized as the Clark County School District Teacher of the Year in 1990. Loved by his students and wrestlers, he became a father figure to many. He competed with his teams, including coaching his two sons across the country, officiated nationally, and was one of Nevada’s ambassadors for the sport of wrestling. He was inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2011 for his lifetime of service to the sport.
A man without idle hands, John spent his free time serving as a deputy sheriff of North Las Vegas (1969-72), obtained his real estate license, and worked in custom home construction. In 1976, he married Susan Watkins (divorced). They had two sons, Douglas and Justin, who they raised in the home he built on 5 acres of desert outside of Las Vegas.
John spent countless hours teaching and tutoring his boys as they traveled the country hunting, fishing, wrestling, camping, and sight-seeing. He loved spending time with his mom, dad, brother, sister, nieces and nephews during the holidays or at his brother’s cabin in Swains Creek, Utah, usually playing cards and eating homemade ice cream. John also loved singing in the Disciples of Christ Church choir for weekend services.
After retiring from the Clark County School District in 1993, John continued to advocate for educators as UniServ Director for the Nevada State Education Association, where he worked for 10 years in Las Vegas and throughout rural Nevada as he relocated to Elko, Nevada for a period of time. It is in this work that John met his wife, Christine Facer Watkins.
In 2000, John married Christine, the love of his life, and received her children, Rjay, Danny, Rory, Matt, and Summer Stucki. He moved to Price, Utah, where they built their home. John taught at the Lighthouse High School for three years, and coached wrestling at Carbon High School for several years. He was a great teacher and outstanding coach, and his ability to help his students and wrestlers do their best was exceptional. His passions were tending to his garden, canning fruits and vegetables, donating food, volunteering for the Friends of NRA, managing Christine’s political campaigns, hunting, fishing, and traveling with his children and grandchildren, who affectionately referred to him as “Pop.”
John is survived by his wife, Christine, and her children and grandchildren, Ashton, Cedar, and Sky, his ex-wife, Susan, and their sons, Douglas (Andrea) and Justin (Marni); his grandchildren, Adyson, Grayson, and Sydney; his brother James (Valerie); his sister, Sue Ellen (Larry). John was preceded in death by his father, John (1989) and his mother, Ruth (2013).
Funeral services with be held Saturday, March 4, 2023, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 47 North 100 East, Wellington, Utah at 2:00 PM.
Family and friends may sign the online guestbook and share memories of John at www.fausettmortuary.com.