James Morris Watt Jr.

Published 10:16 am Tuesday, February 7, 2023

James Morris Watt Jr. passed away peacefully on February 3, 2023. He was 86 years old.  James, Jimmy or Sonny, depending on how you knew him, was born December 16, 1936, to James and Virginia Watt in Vicksburg. He attended Jett and Carr Central High Schools where he starred in basketball. He graduated from Mississippi State University and received both a BS and MS in Civil Engineering. While in the Mississippi Air National Guard during college, he served at Walter Reed Hospital as part of the Medical Evacuation Team. After college, he served for several years in the Army 168th HQ Engineering Reserves.

James was employed first at the Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District, and later at Waterways Experiment Station, Structures Laboratory. He served 36 years investigating the response and survivability of structures subjected to blast and earthquake loading. During his time at WES, he was selected to participate in the “Army Advanced Studies Program” and completed a year of study at Colorado State University.

As part of his job, James would travel to government test sites. His family enjoyed traveling with him to sites as far East as Kentucky, West to Arizona and North to Alberta, Canada. In addition to travel, James was an avid singer and guitarist. He had a beautiful voice and often performed to audiences in and around Vicksburg. He brought joy to all who heard him sing. He also enjoyed gourd art, photography and his membership in the Vicksburg Historical Society.

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He was a faithful member of the 61-North Bypass Church of Christ.

James was preceded in death by his father, James Morris Watt Sr., and his mother, Virginia (Fenimore) Watt. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Katy (Thompson) Watt; his children, Polly Ann (Steve) Cayson, of Huntsville, AL, his son, James Morris Watt, III, of Atlanta, GA; his sister, Ann (Jim) Delaney, of Greenville, SC, and niece, Elizabeth Bayne, of Greenville, SC.  He had one granddaughter, Emma Cayson, and a God son, Bryson Scott.

Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. on Friday, February 10 at Fisher-Riles Funeral Home, 5000 Indiana Ave. with services to follow at 11 a.m. with Dr. Willie Nettle officiating.  Interment to follow at Cedar Hill Cemetery.