Lillian Watkins, former ASU first lady, dies at 96 - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Lillian Watkins, former ASU first lady, dies at 96

Lillian Bernice Varnado Watkins (Photo Courtesy: ASU) Lillian Bernice Varnado Watkins (Photo Courtesy: ASU)

Alabama State University says it is saddened at the death of Lillian Bernice Varnado Watkins, widow of legendary ASU President, Dr. Levi Watkins. She died Oct. 6, and was 96.

Watkins was an educator and homemaker, and earned a bachelor's degree, cum laude, from Lane College in Jackson, Tenn.

Her husband is acclaimed as the ASU president who took ASU from a small teacher's college when he began his tenure in 1962, to a state university accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges when he retired  in 1981.

"After many years of service in a president's office, I know full well the extraordinary importance of an effective first lady to the performance of presidential duties," said William H. Harris, President Emeritus/Interim President of ASU. "Mrs. Watkins served superbly in that role. Her children have said that she was the "quiet giant" behind President Watkins's success, and it was Lillian Watkins, they said, who was not only his "biggest cheerleader," but who was the one who helped to "quiet the storms during the difficult times."

Harris said Mrs. Watkins' accomplishments as a homemaker made her equally successful to her husband. "She was the mother of six very accomplished children, which included a mathematician, two surgeons, an attorney/entrepreneur and two educators. She was a grandmother to 12 and a great-grandmother to 19 offspring."

"We cherish the memory of Lillian Watkins and offer our sincere condolences to all of her family."

Funeral services will be held Saturday, October 12, at 1 p.m. from the Beulah Baptist Church with Rev. Porter Osby, Jr., officiating. Interment will follow in Greenwood Serenity Gardens. Mrs. Watkins will lie in repose at the church one hour prior to the funeral service.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Alabama State University

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