Originally published on Greenville.edu. Digital Media by Jessica Sturgeon.
Watson Tidball, beloved member of the extended Greenville College community, passed away at his home on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013. He leaves behind a legacy of dedication and service to Greenville College, the City of Greenville, and Bond County. While “Prof” Tidball’s colleagues recall him as a loyal supporter and enthusiastic champion for the college, many more in the Greenville area remember him as a gracious servant and good friend.
Greenville College Acting President Randy Bergen said, “I was fortunate to work with Watson right after I graduated from Greenville College in 1984. It was clear then that he loved GC and her students. When I returned 16 years later, he was just as dedicated to making the College a great place to learn and work. We will miss his big personality, his positive attitude, and his willingness to befriend anyone.”
Watson was born July 7, 1925. He graduated from Greenville College in 1949 and began service to his alma mater the next day, retiring in 1993. Watson received his master’s degree in business administration from Washington University and was awarded an honorary doctorate of public service from Greenville College in 1984. In 1994, he was granted emeritus status as an associate professor of management and planned giving. In 2012, Greenville College announced an endowed scholarship bearing Watson’s name. It recognizes outstanding students in the areas of accounting, management, and marketing.
“Watson never met a stranger,” said Greenville College President Emeritus W. Richard Stephens. “He was the epitome of loyalty to his church, Greenville College and all her alumni, and to the City of Greenville. He touched the lives of thousands of people, and many of them will attest to the fact he made a major difference in their lives.”
After serving in the classroom for many years, Watson moved to the College’s advancement office, where he regularly met with alumni and friends of the institution. He helped donors understand the value of planned giving and the various instruments they could use to provide for their retirements and support the College in perpetuity.
“For years to come, Greenville College will benefit from the guidance Watson offered our loyal alumni and friends,” said Walter Fenton, vice president for college advancement. “He was very friendly, concerned for our alumni and friends’ financial well-being, and understood how investing properly could help them and the College. He never actually retired; he was always working to make Greenville College a better place.”
Many recall Watson as master of ceremonies at numerous alumni events. He sang, told jokes, and put people at ease at formal affairs. When his son, Craig, wrote a blog post last year about his father’s gift for entertaining, Watson responded, “What great memories. I am looking for my joke book and may go on the circuit again!”
In addition to hosting alumni events on campus and around the country, Watson also led alumni and friends on tours and cruises around the world. “Esther and I loved the opportunity to travel with Watson and other GC alumni. He always went the second mile to make sure everybody had a good time,” said long time friend and alumnus Don Jones ’52.
In 2008, Greenville College dedicated the Watson and Bonnie Tidball Alumni House and Welcome Center to reflect the signature hospitality of its namesakes. “The total number of guests our parents entertained over the years is mindboggling,” recalled Jana Spencer in tribute to her parents. “Mom and Dad carry out the teachings of the apostles as they practice hospitality without complaint and share with believers who are in need. They have done so sacrificially, yet they would be the first to tell you that they’re the ones who are blessed.”