April 13, 2015 — Members of the legal community and Lincoln Memorial University officials gathered with Robert H. Watson’s family, friends, and colleagues Friday, April 10, to dedicate the courtroom of LMU’s Duncan School of Law in Watson’s honor. Watson, an LMU trustee and prominent Knoxville attorney, passed away following a brief illness in April 2014.
Watson, a partner with Watson, Roach, Batson, Rowell and Lauderback, played an integral role in the founding of LMU Law in Knoxville. He first served as chair of the advisory board as LMU began developing its plans for a law school in August 2008. He worked tirelessly to bring together a who’s who of legal minds to shape the program. In May 2009, Watson officially joined the LMU Board of Trustees.
During the dedication, LMU Chairman O.V. Autry “Pete” DeBusk credited Watson with keeping the rest of the LMU Board of Trustees invested throughout the law school’s bid for provisional American Bar Association accreditation, a milestone reached in December.
“The devotion that Robert had to the success of this law school was nothing short of amazing. He recognized very early on the potential this venture had to impact this community and became engrossed in it,” DeBusk said. “He was on my mind as soon as we heard the good news from the ABA in December. I knew that he was smiling with us on that fateful day. Robert’s support for the Duncan School of Law was constant. Without a doubt, LMU’s law school would not be a reality today without Robert Watson.”
Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary R. Wade also recalled his friendship with Watson during the ceremony. After first meeting as rivals on a high school football field, Watson became a mentor and professional confidant to Wade as they each embarked on celebrated legal careers.
Watson’s widow, Pat, also shared how she and her high-school sweetheart first met. She remembered her husband as a dedicated family man with a huge smile and a career he was passionate about. She said he loved LMU Law and would have loved this honor.
Watson’s legal partner, Jon Roach, also brought remarks on behalf of the firm Watson founded.
LMU President B. James Dawson was joined by Pat Watson, DeBusk, Wade and Roach as they unveiled a portrait to commemorate the courtroom’s new name.
Following the unveiling, LMU Law Acting Dean Matt Lyon presented Pat Watson with a framed print of a Lincoln painting that also hangs in the courtroom.