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Watkins, area GOP chairman, dies at 66

South Boston News
Tucker C. Watkins IV / October 08, 2012
Tucker C. Watkins IV, former chairman of the Fifth District Republican Party and a party stalwart who worked on the campaigns of George Allen and Virgil Goode, died Saturday morning after battling cancer. He was 66.

Watkins had been hospitalized at Halifax Regional Hospital after his condition had deteriorated in recent days. A family member confirmed his passing around 10 a.m. Saturday.

He remained politically active until the end, voting absentee on Wednesday for the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney for president, George Allen for U.S. Senate and Robert Hurt for Fifth District representative.

“Three good men,” he posted on his Facebook wall.

John Thrift III, a nephew living in Washington, D.C., offered a statement on behalf of the family: “Tucker was passionate about life — politics, family, friends and had a great love for his country. He truly was a Virginia gentleman. We’ll miss him terribly.”

A resident of the Clover area, Watkins gained renown for his activism with the Republican Party, which led to his appointment by then-Senator George Allen to serve as Southside field director following Allen’s election to the Senate in 2000. After Allen lost his seat, Watkins went on to become campaign manager for Virgil Goode when the Rocky Mount congressman faced a challenge from Democratic candidate Tom Perriello. Goode lost that race in 2008.

Allen issued a statement Saturday night hailing Watkins as a “dedicated, patriotic leader for Southside Virginia,” “a truly special friend” and “a loyal, creative leader who was always looking to welcome new people into our Party.” Seeing Watkins at a town hall meeting in Halifax County last month, Allen said the opportunity “allowed all of us to cheer for him and express our gratitude for his positive influence in our lives.

“Susan and I will remember Tucker with grateful and fond memories, and we will keep his friends and family in our thoughts and prayers,” he said.

Watkins was a long-time Fifth District chairman and worked alongside elected officials in the region including State Senators Frank Ruff of Clarksville and Bill Stanley of Franklin. He also attended several national political conventions, including the 2004 convention to promote George Bush’s re-election campaign, at which he was interviewed on national TV wearing a “Purple Heart Bandaid” mocking Democratic nominee John Kerry.

An Army veteran who fought in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, Watkins was active in veterans’ causes. He is also a past member of the Virginia Tobacco Commission.

Republican Del. James Edmunds of Halifax praised Watkins as “certainly one of Halifax County’s finest citizens” who “did more, I believe to advance the Republican Party in this area and around the state than anyone, but he did it respectfully.

“He sincerely believed in his heart that he was bettering Virginia and the country,” said Edmunds.

Memorial services for Watkins will be held Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in South Boston. Burial will follow in the Oak Ridge Cemetery with military rites. The family will receive friends Monday, Oct. 8 from 6-9 p.m. at Watkins’ home, Black Walnut Farm, 2091 Black Walnut Road in Clover.

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I was extremely sorry to hear of Tucker's passing. In addition to his committed and dedicated service the the Republican Party and the people of Southside, let's not forget his unselfish love and passion, that he had for the Virginia Jaycees and the Virginia JCI Senate, for which he served as president, 1994-1995. "And that service to humanity is the best work of life" (last line of the Jaycee Creed).

C B Andrews Jr
Pembroke Va
Virginia JCI Senator # 33230


Truly a Virginia gentleman. An honor to have known Tucker.

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