Judge receives Watson Award

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Banquet attire: Scott Carraway, Susan Carraway and John Pelletier dressed in Civil War-era attire at the Marion Joyner Watson Memorial Award banquet Monday.

By Heather McGinley

Special to the News-Herald

The Hon. Judge William Wellington Jones received 16th annual Marion Joyner Watson Memorial Award on Monday. The award is given by the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

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Despite a lifetime of service through city government and community organizations, Jones accepted his award plaque humbly, insisting that he didn’t do anything more than anyone else did.

Jones has served as the Commonwealth’s Attorney and was the first Suffolk city attorney when Suffolk and Nansemond County merged in 1974. Jones was a judge in General District Court from 1978 to 1991 and served as the first president of the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society.

The award is given to “people of considerable notability that have spent their lives doing good thigns for the community and for history,” said Lee Hart, a charter member and past commander of the Tom Smith Camp No. 1702 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“This Tom Smith Camp event is our way of going outside and showing our appreciation to individuals who have excelled in commitment in service to the public and to historic preservation,” Hart said.

The award is named after Marion Joyner Watson, the first recipient who died of cancer shortly after receiving the award. Hart said it was not initially intended to be an annual award, but was given to Watson “to show appreciation for what she has meant to so many people.”

After Watson’s death, however, the Tom Smith Camp “decided to make it an annual event in her name to recognize one person a year who has been an icon in history or preservation or supporting veterans.”

“[Watson] was the premier historian of Suffolk and Nansemond County,” Hart said. “Without people like this, we would lose everything.”

The Tom Smith Camp continues presenting the award as a tribute to Watson, to honor the recipients of the award for their contributions to the community and to bring awareness to the historic preservation efforts of the Tom Smith Camp.

Mike Pullen, Commander of Tom Smith Camp recalled that when Judge Jones received his award, “He was very honored and didn’t think he was deserving, but he has said that for every award he has ever received. He is very deserving.”

When choosing a winner of the award, the Tom Smith Camp looks for candidates who exemplify Watson’s service to the city.

“Judge Jones was one of the founders of the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society,” Pullen said. “This gave him a lot of merit in preserving Suffolk and Nansemond history. He is a truly worthy person.”

Hart added his agreement.

“Jones is a veteran and is always ready to attend or participate in ceremonies honoring veterans for whatever war,” Hart said. “He is proud of his confederate heritage. He has given a lifetime of service to the community, county, and Suffolk.”

The award is aligned with the mission of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Their mission is to honor Southern ancestors, accurately present the motivation and principles that led the South to secede from the Union, preserve history, and educate the public.