On April 7, 2018, Alice Lloyd College lost a very dear alumnus, Dr. Gene T. Watts, Class of 1949. A detailed memorial of Dr. Watts’ life was given at his funeral by a family member and fellow physician, Dr. Van Breeding. Without surprise, it left us in awe of just how devoted he was to his alma mater and the region in which he lived.
Dr. Watts’ story with Alice Lloyd College, then Caney Junior College, began in 1947. He admirably stepped away from his high school education just prior to graduation to serve in the Army during World War II. After arriving home, he completed his GED and enrolled at ALC. Mrs. Lloyd quickly realized the potential Gene held. She convinced him the best way to serve the people of Eastern Kentucky would be as a doctor, and she guided him toward the medical field.
Upon completion of his education at Caney Junior College, Mrs. Lloyd agreed to see her investment through by sending him on to finish his studies at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. During the summers between his studies, Doc Watts returned to Caney and taught classes in Biology and Health.
This was the beginning of what became a genuine life of service and commitment—one that would have made Mrs. Lloyd immensely proud. Dr. Watts opened his private practice in Hindman, Kentucky in 1957 where he practiced for 17 years before moving to the June Buchanan Clinic downtown. It is estimated that during his career he provided services to over half-a-million patients and happily welcomed over 2,000 babies into the world.
In 1995, two years after his “official” retirement, Doc Watts was asked to hold a four-day immunization clinic at Alice Lloyd College. The clinic opened a door of opportunity for him to further serve his community and alma mater. Volunteering his time for the next 14 years, Dr. Watts served as the College’s physician. Many of the faculty, staff, and students of ALC and JBS came to love Doc Watts—always asking about him when he was out of the office, as he often asked of them when he bumped into those he knew from campus. Gene not only dedicated his time and services to Alice Lloyd College he also generously donated an estimate of 1.8 million dollars in free physicals to student-athletes across Knott County in addition to serving on several boards and committees in the community.
His family firmly believes that the best way to honor Dr. Watts is by continuing the work he was so passionate about— striving to improve healthcare and education in order to build stronger communities.
Known by many, and loved by all, the weight of his legacy is still heavy on our hearts.
Because of the great love and appreciation Dr. Watts had for Alice Lloyd College, his family is establishing a scholarship in his memory. If you would like to make a memorial contribution toward this scholarship you may do so online at www.alc.edu or by mailing your gift to Alice Lloyd College. Please be sure to designate your gift for the Dr. Gene T. Watts Endowed Scholarship Fund.
A special thanks to Pauletta Breeding for generously allowing us to use her beautifully written eulogy as inspiration for this article.