James Leonard Watson Sr.

PORTLAND – James Leonard Watson Sr., son of the late James G. Watson and Jacqueline Riccio Watson, passed away on October 2, 2020, following a nearly six-year battle with cancer. During the years following his diagnosis, Jim exemplified the cliché “live every day like it’s your last,” benefiting from every innovative chemotherapy treatment available and embracing eastern medicine and a holistic approach to health. He exercised until it wasn’t an option anymore, loved his career with Neocase Software, spent time with his incredible friends, taught countless people countless lessons about the importance of living a full and loving life, helped others, and loved his family with every fiber of his being.

In his 60 years, “Big Jim” did and loved many things surrounding both his physical and mental well-being, including skiing, running and competing in marathons and triathlons and the Peaks to Portland; he was an avid reader and an accomplished writer. He frequently wrote about his battle with cancer on his blog, http://www.stage4thinking.com. He was a major sports fan, maintaining an emphatic fandom for the New York Mets (his childhood superheroes), and eventually the Red Sox and the Butler Bulldogs basketball team. Growing up in Westchester County, New York, he was not shy about the fact that he decided to attend Saint Michael’s College in Vermont solely for its proximity to the ski slopes. He met his wife, Maryann (“M.A.”), while living in New York City after college. Once married, Jim and M.A. ultimately moved to Portland, Maine, where both their children were born. After more than three decades living here, Big Jim still embraced Portland as if he was a tourist here for the first time – he loved our little city and all of the wonderful people and places within it. In recent years, nothing brought him joy quite like enjoying a Thursday evening picnic on the Eastern Prom with friends, rowing his one-man skull in the Back Cove, and capturing the picturesque Portland sunrises on Instagram. His memory lives on in every corner of this seaside town.

Jim will be deeply missed by his loving soul-mate and wife of 32 years, M.A. Hennessey Watson, his daughter, Shea H. Watson (named for the former stadium of the New York Mets), his son and namesake, James L. Watson II, his sister, Jayne and her husband Paul Drinkwater, his brother, Tom Watson, his sister, Joan Watson, his beloved in-laws, his nieces and nephews he loved dearly, and the countless friends he considered family.

In light of the ongoing and devastating pandemic, no formal services will be held at this time, but a party in Jim’s honor will be thrown when it is safe to do so.

Jim epitomized humanity, decency, acceptance, and a genuine love for all, and his family requests that those who wish to express sympathy consider making a donation to their local American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a local food or housing insecurity organization, local recovery community, or any social justice organization working to support marginalized and oppressed populations.

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