McNeill “Mac” Watkins II was born in Raleigh, NC, on September 19, 1949, to McNeill and Suzanne Blackmon Watkins. He spent his early childhood somewhat as a vagabond living in North Carolina, Texas, Venezuela and New York. In 1967, he graduated from the Florida Air Academy (call sign: Braniac!) as valedictorian and first-ever cadet Major. He attended Princeton University, where he distinguished himself on the varsity rowing team and as vice-president of Cottage Club; in 1971 he received his BA in English. He represented the USA Rowing Team in their European tour in the summer of 1970. After dabbling in the art of hackney carriage driving in Boston he found himself an early-adopter of the notion of moving back home with the parents. This was to an end, though, as he worked double shifts at a manufacturing plant and a pancake house, earning enough to put himself through law school at the University of Florida. In his final year, 1975, he was named editor of the Law Review. That year he accepted a position with the Federal Power Commission in Washington, DC as a staff attorney. He later entered the private sector where he specialized in the complex permitting process for constructing nuclear power plants in Texas and Utah. He later took his legal skills into the international arena, assisting former soviet bloc countries (Azerbaijan and Georgia) develop their own regulations and administration of their power industries.
Mac was an enthusiastic golfer, a voracious reader of all things in print, an avid cook and aficionado of Mexican food. He was a founder and team owner in baseball’s elite Grimes League, a precursor to today’s fantasy leagues. More recently, his love of sharing activities with his boys led to his involvement in Scout leadership. Mac was active in the leadership of the Lay Pastoral Care program at his church, as well as a board member of the Friends of the Library.
Mac is survived by his dear and devoted wife Sarah, sons Ian and Will, of whom he was immensely proud. Survivors also include his brothers Wayne and Doug, niece Maddy and nephew Jackson. He will be missed by his immediate family and the extensive network of relatives in his beloved Riverton community in North Carolina. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in his memory to the Melanoma Research Foundation.
A memorial service will be held at 10 am Tuesday, October 4th at Christ Episcopal Church, 400 San Juan Drive in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082. A remembrance will also be held at the family homestead in Riverton at a future date.