James “Jim” Waitman Watt, 78, of Topeka, passed away on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. He was born February 13, 1941 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of Barney and Florence (Haynes) Watt.
Jim graduated from Glenwood Arkansas High School and attended Henderson State University. He was a decorated Marine Corps Veteran during the Vietnam War.
Jim owned and published the Glenwood Arkansas Herald weekly newspaper, field editor for the Regional Construction News Magazine, the editor of the Pacific Island newspapers on Canton in the Phoenix Islands, now the Nation of Kiribati, and on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands at the now Reagan Missile Test Site. He came from a family owned newspaper background, along with his father, uncle and cousins in Arkansas and Oklahoma. He also worked as a civilian contract employee with the Defense Nuclear Agency and the Department of Energy as a logistic support coordinator for the long term studies of effects of nuclear fallout and the lingering effects of radiation from the nuclear and thermal nuclear above ground testing in Northern Marshall Islands where he lived for several years. Upon moving from the islands to Kansas City to be married, he became a long-term custodial and maintenance supervisor the Center School District 58 and retired from there in 2003.
Jim was an ordained elder of the Presbyterian Church USA, was active in the workings of Ruskin Heights Presbyterian Church in South Kansas City for many years and was a member of Topeka Trinity Presbyterian Church at the time of his death. He was a life member Mason for 57 years. He was a member of Friends of Missouri Town 1855, a pre-Civil War reenactment group in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, which is part of the Jackson County Historical Heritage program. He was a self-taught student of the mountain dulcimer and performed with the Summit Cove Gathering of Lee’s Summit, Missouri and was one of the group’s founding members. After his retirement from Center School District, he was elected a board member of South Kansas City’s Community Assistance Council for a number of years and additionally was a driver for the Meals on Wheels Program. He was a Kansas City, Missouri, Republican Election Judge until health issues forced him to retire.
Jim married Marilyn Kay Granger on December 31, 1983 in Kansas City, Missouri. She survives. Other survivors include his step-daughter; Kelly Hamilton (Bruce) Voigt, two step-sons; Chris (Maribeth Tipton), Sean (Barbara) Hamilton, grandchildren; Riley Voigt, Sheridan Voigt and Rachel Hamilton and his sister-in-laws; Alice Gene Meacham, Bobbi Cavendar Watt.
Jim was preceded in death by one brother; Ed Meacham and one sister; Elaine Watt Garrett.
Services will be held at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, June 1, 2019 at Trinity Presbyterian Church where the family will receive friends one hour prior to service time. Cremation will follow the service and private inurnment will take place at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to Trinity Presbyterian Church, 4746 SW 21st St., Topeka, Kansas 66604.
Dove Southeast Chapel, 2843 SE Minnesota Ave. is assisting the family.
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