In a memory album Lucille Watson created to celebrate their golden anniversary, she reflects on hers and John’s courtship. “It all started in the summer of 1957. John came to Edinburg to work in the oil fields to get money to go back to Texas A&M in the fall. I was working as a waitress to get money to go back to Texas A&I in the fall.” Lucille says that John came in to eat each evening where she worked, driving an old, blue Buick, one he still had when they got married. They got engaged on November 30, 1957, and they married on May 9, 1958.
Lucille explains that her family moved to the Texas valley upon a doctor’s suggestion to escape the winter cold of Illinois because her mother suffered each winter from pneumonia. (Frances, her mother, then lived to be 101!) After moving to Edinburgh, Lucille’s father tried to return to Illinois to farm in the summers, but after a few years of that unsuccessful venture, he sold his farm and opened up a tourist court in Edinburgh.
John Watson (born March 2, 1936) had graduated from Devine High School in 1954, where there can be found in the trophy case one naming John as “The Most Valuable Player” on that year’s Warhorse football team. John went on to Texas A&M where he tried to walk onto Bear Bryant’s football squad, but he broke his leg in practice. He then got onto the wrestling team and lettered. John and Lucille married in May of his senior year. Upon his graduation, John joined the Army Reserves and served six months active duty. Meanwhile, Lucille continued pursuing her degree until graduating in 1958.
The couple moved to Devine, and Lucille taught for one semester at Somerset before their first child, Herbie, was born. She then stayed home and raised her babies before going back to teaching. This time, she took a Home Ec position at Devine High School. Meanwhile, John, who had majored in Ag Ed, had gone to work alongside the renowned Henry Moss, teaching Ag at DHS.
John left teaching when the opportunity presented itself to purchase Logins and Lilly dry goods store, a business that had been begun by John’s grandfather, Warren S. Lilly and his wife, Maude Logins. Subsequently, Warren’s son, Travis Lilly, and Jack Tilley, operated the store. John and Lucille then owned and operated Logins and Lilly until 1971, after which time the store closed permanently.
John’s next venture was to begin Watson Cattle Service on the ranch. The L6 Ranch was started as a Registered Brahman Ranch in 1937 by John’s uncle, W.R. Lilly. He was one of the foundation breeders of the American Brahman Breeders Association (ABBA), and he was the 97th member in the Association. The L6 brand represented the six Lilly brothers and sisters in the family. When W.R. Lilly died in 1942, the ranch was then operated by John’s grandfather, W.S. Lilly, until his death. The Brahman herd was then owned by John’s father, J.H. Watson, until his death in 1959. Since John’s death (d. April 8, 2009), the ranch has been owned by Lucille, and, although she recently dispersed and sold off her herd, her son Clint and his wife are now running cattle on it.
After closing the store, for many years John traveled over the southern part of the U.S. showing cattle, mostly red and gray Brahmans. He located cattle for various people and had them shipped to such countries as Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Mexico, and Thailand. He established quite a name in the industry, marketed Brahman cattle from numerous ranches all over the state and surrounding ones. He also opened a show barn in Tyler, TX, where he and his son, Warren, who oversaw the operation, managed the cattle and took them to stock shows.
Showing and marketing cattle provided for some interesting experiences. One such was the year that John was responsible for some 40 head of cattle out of Mexico being placed on display in the Houston Livestock Show. Another story, one told by son Warren, was when he and his dad traveled by plane with the only occupants being the two of them, the pilot and co-pilot, and a herd of cattle being transported for delivery to Thailand.
When John stopped showing cattle, he began work as an auctioneer. He opened the Watson Equipment Company where he held occasional auctions, and he traveled all over the state holding auctions for various estates and ranches.
There was an interval in the mid 80’s when John and Lucille moved for a year or so to Omaha, TX, where John managed his cousin’s cattle and Lucille taught Home Ec at DeKalb, close to Texarkana. When they returned, there was no longer a Home Ec position open at DHS, so Lucille got certified to teach Special Ed, and she remained in that field until her retirement in 2003.
John and Lucille had four boys. The oldest, Herbie, lives on a ranch with his wife, Kim, in Yuma, AZ, and he also runs an 8-Bay carwash and quick lube business. Wesley lives on a ranch in Brady with his wife, Sharon. He also works in a farm equipment store, and Sharon makes and sells candles. Clint and his wife, Shelly, have relocated home from deep East Texas, where they have sold their ranch. Shelly helps look after Lucille while Clint works out of Pleasanton as a Special Education Counselor for the Atascosa/McMullen County Co-Op. Warren also lives on the ranch in the house where Lucille and John first lived before building their lovely, Spanish-style home. Lucille boasts nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
In her celebratory album created in 2008, Lucille opens with this: “Fifty years together is about trust, about being there for each other during good times, tough times, and all the times in between. It’s about knowing that no matter what, year after year, love is everything.”