Gary Watkins

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Gary Lynn Watkins
Ector County Judge
In office
Preceded by Joseph "Joe" Connally
Succeeded by Nola Jan Fisher Greaves
Texas State Representative from District 75 (Ector County)
In office
Preceded by J. Kelly Godwin (District 75)
Succeeded by George E. "Buddy" West (reconfigured District 81)
Judge of the Texas State District Court for the 244th District
In office
Preceded by Joseph "Joe" Connally
Succeeded by William Stacy Trotter
Personal details
Born (1946-12-12) December 12, 1946 (age 71)
Crane, Crane County
Texas, USA
Died August 8, 2004(2004-08-08) (aged 57)
Odessa, Ector County, Texas
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Hope Coley Watkins

R. Trent Watkins
Travis Watkins
Grant Watkins
Heather Watkins

Summer Roberson
Parents Leonard Lamar and Leona Elizabeth Brosh Watkins
Residence Odessa, Texas
Alma mater

Permian High School
University of Texas

University of Texas School of Law
Occupation Attorney

Gary Lynn Watkins (December 12, 1946 – August 8, 2004) was a lawyer and Democratic politician from Odessa in Ector County in West Texas. From 1987 to 1993, Watkins held the District 75 seat, since largely reconfigured into District 81, in the Texas House of Representatives.[1]


Watkins was the only child of Leonard Lamar "Toots" Watkins (c. 1922-1997), an oil company mechanic,[2] and the former Leona Elizabeth Brosh (c 1923-2011), a beautician.[3] He was born in the oil production center of Crane in Crane County to the south of Odessa.[4] Reared in Odessa, he graduated in 1965 from Permian High School in Odessa.[5] He received his bachelor's degree in government from the University of Texas at Austin; in 1973, he obtained his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.[6]

Political life[edit]

On May 1, 1976, Watkins ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for the Texas House. In 1977, while an alternative municipal judge, Watkins was appointed Ector county judge, a position to which he was subsequently elected. The outgoing county judge, Joseph "Joe" Connally, resigned to accept the newly created 244th state District Court position under appointment from Governor Dolph Briscoe.[6] Watkins would succeed Connally not only as county judge but twenty-two years later as state court judge.

Six years after his tenure as county judge ended, Watkins was elected to three legislative terms.[4] In 1992, he supported Arkansas' Bill Clinton for U.S. President[7] but did not seek a fourth term in the legislature. In the general election that year, Odessa, placed in the reconfigured District 81, elected the Republican businessman George E. "Buddy" West over another Democratic candidate, Betsy Ann Triplett-Hurt. District 81 had previously been centered in Wichita County and was represented by the Democrat John Hirschi.[8]

As a representative, Watkins worked with State Senator John T. Montford of Lubbock to obtain four-year status for the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. For a time he was the chairman of the House Higher Education Committee.[9] For his government service he received the Heritage of Odessa Foundation Award. Buddy West continued Watkins' active efforts to promote the UTPB, having pushed for the establishment of the Presidential Museum and Leadership Library on the campus.[10] West was unseated in the Republican primary shortly before his death in 2008 by another Republican, Tryon D. Lewis, who as the 161st District Court judge had been one of Watkins' judicial colleagues.

In 1996, Watkins polled nearly 13 percent of the vote in a special election for the District 28 seat in the Texas Senate, vacated by John Montford, but the seat went to the Republican, Robert L. Duncan of Lubbock,[11] who still holds the post.

In 1998, Watkins was elected to the 244th District Court, a judicial position based in Odessa. He defeated the Republican John William Cliff (born 1949) of Odessa, 11,894 votes (57.1 percent) to 8,927 (42.9 percent).[12] He was reelected judge without opposition in 2002.


Watkins died of leukemia[5] in Alliance Hospital in Odessa at the age of fifty-seven. From his marriage to his surviving wife, the former Hope Coley (born 1949), were born three sons, R. Trent Watkins, Travis Watkins, and Grant Watkins, and two daughters, Heather Watkins and Summer Roberson.[4] Services were held at his home church, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Odessa. He is interred at Sunset Memorial Gardens.[13] There is a cenotaph in his honor in section 2 of Monument Hill at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.[14]


  1. ^ "Gary L. Watkins". Legislative Reference Library of Texas. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  2. ^ "Leonard L. "Toots" Watkins". Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  3. ^ "Leona Catherine Watkins". Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c "Former Odessa judge and lawmaker dies". Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Permian High School, Class of 1965". Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Young Odessa lawyer new county judge". Odessa American, September 2, 1977, p. 23. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  7. ^ "ODESSA, Texas Political Contributions by Individuals". Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  8. ^ "General Election, 11/3/1992". Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  9. ^ "Debbie Housel, Higher Ed Preparing for Legislative Budget Crunch". Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  10. ^ "Buddy West passes away". Odessa American Online. June 25, 2008. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  11. ^ "Special Election, November 5, 1996". Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  12. ^ "General Election, November 3, 1998". Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  13. ^ "Gary Lynn Watkins". Odessa American. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  14. ^ "Gary Lynn Watkins". Retrieved October 27, 2013.
Preceded by
Joseph "Joe" Connally
Ector County Judge

Gary Lynn Watkins

Succeeded by
Nola Jan Fisher Greaves
Preceded by
J. Kelly Godwin (District 75)
Texas State Representative from District 75
(Ector County)

Gary Lynn Watkins

Succeeded by
George E. "Buddy" West (District 81)
Preceded by
Joseph "Joe" Connally
Judge of the 244th Texas Judicial District Court

Gary Lynn Watkins

Succeeded by
William Stacy Trotter