Serving the Lord By Serving Westmont

For more information about the Wallace Emerson Society, call Senior Director Kati Buehler in the Office of Gift Planning, 805-565-6058, or send an email message to

For more information about the Wallace Emerson Society, call Senior Director Kati Buehler in the Office of Gift Planning, 805-565-6058, or send an email message to

John Watts, who helped countless people plan their estates, died January 12, 2015, at the age of 85. Gracious, selfless and caring, he built strong support for Westmont through his heartfelt friendships. In partnership with his wife, Patty, John developed the college’s planned giving program. He and Iva Schatz established the Wallace Emerson Society to honor the many people who remember Westmont in their will or estate plan.

John described his work as helping people leave a legacy. He asked them, “What do you have, and what do you want to do with it to benefit the people and charities that mean the most to you?” The resulting conversations and decisions delighted and gratified him. He became close to many of the people he wisely advised throughout the years.

Equipped with an undergraduate degree in accounting, a seminary education, an affinity for administration and a great love for people, John began his career with the Navigators in 1958. He and Patty devoted 25 years to the ministry. He first began developing expertise in planned giving in 1968 and launched the Navigators’ planned giving program.

All three of the Watts’ children graduated from Westmont (Bruce Watts ’79, Kathi Walker ’82 and Vicki Cope ’86), and so did Kathi’s husband, Dan Walker ’82, and their daughter, Hanna Walker ’10.

John joked that he accepted the position at Westmont in 1983 to pay off tuition bills. But he and Patty valued the education their family received and wanted to offer the same opportunity to ot hers. They retired in 1996 and adopted a mission statement that summarizes their approach to life: “Let’s serve the Lord by serving our family and extended family (Westmont and the remainder of our community) in the way we serve best, and let the Lord take care of the rest.”

The Watts stayed close to the college, especially as avid Warrior basketball fans. John’s work will live on in the bequests that will benefit and strengthen Westmont for years to come.

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