In Loving Memory of Bill Watkins

June 19, 1920
Boston, Massachusetts
August 30, 2019
Southport, CT
Funeral Home

Spear-Miller Funeral Home

39 South Benson Road,
Fairfield CT US 06824


Trinity Episcopal Church

Memorial Service

651 Pequot Avenue,
Southport Connecticut 06890

Friday, October 4, 2019 3:00PM


Family Gathering


Bridgeport Hospital Foundation

267 Grant Street,
Bridgeport Connecticut 06610

Trinity Episcopal Church

651 Pequot Avenue,
Southport Connecticut 06890

William Fairbank Watkins

William Fairbank Watkins, 99, of Southport, CT, husband for 67 years of the late Helen F. Watkins and son of the late Florence C. and Joseph F. Watkins, passed away on August 30th, 2019.
Bill was born in Boston, MA and was a resident of Bridgeport, Fairfield and Southport, CT since 1924. He graduated from Central High School in Bridgeport and attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning a degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. As a licensed Professional Engineer, he published a number of papers on marine surveying and was a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, the American Society of Marine Engineers and the U.S. Naval Institute.
Following graduation from MIT, he worked at Gibbs and Cox designing propulsion plants and layouts for destroyers and destroyer escorts until entering the Navy in late 1942. Bill was an officer in Amphibious Ship Repair units in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, last serving on Okinawa as the Officer-in-Charge of the repair base until 1946. After the war, he joined the United States Salvage Association, rising to the position of Vice President and Chief Engineer until starting his own company as a marine surveyor and consultant in 1962. He retired at the age of 89.
Both Bill and Helen were avid sailors. Bill learned to sail in the Pequot Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program, racing Star boats and Atlantics, often competing against his father. Helen was a good sailor in her own right and they spent twenty plus years sailing their cruising boat, “Windseeker”, throughout New England. Bill was very active at Pequot, spending all but two years from 1948 through 2010 on either the Board of Governors as Secretary, Race Committee Chair and Club Historian, or as a Board committee member (Frostbite, Entertainment, Protest, House, Junior Sailing and Harbor Study Committee). In 2000, he co-authored The History of the Pequot Yacht Club with Kathy Moeller.
Bill was an avid photographer and carried his camera with him while in the Navy and later it was never far from his side as he photographed family and his travels. Bill’s passion for travel and the ocean led him to explore most European countries as he cruised and toured over 25 countries with Helen over the years. He was always at home when traveling on ships. Skiing was another of his passions and he embraced the cold outdoors skiing at Bromley Mountain in Vermont. In his later years, Bill also enjoyed weekly bowling with his friends. He got his grandsons interested in the sport, but as he smiled and winked, they were pressed to outscore him.
He is survived by his daughter, Nancy Lanzoni and her husband, Craig, of Old Greenwich, CT, John Watkins and his wife, Ann, of Fairfield, CT, and five grandsons - Benjamin (Candice) Lanzoni, William Lanzoni, John Watkins, Jr., Thomas (Jennifer) Watkins and David Watkins. Bill loved his family, had unwavering integrity and a great sense of humor. He will be missed and remembered by family and all his friends.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in memory of Bill can be made to the Bridgeport Hospital Foundation, 267 Grant Street, Bridgeport, CT 06610 or or to the Trinity Church Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 400, Southport, CT 06890.
A memorial service will be held at Trinity Church in Southport, CT on October 4th, 2019 at 3:00 pm.
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3 Guestbook Entries for William Fairbank Watkins

  1. What a great man. My memories of him run the gamut-respect, awe and friendship. His sense of humor was one in a million and I’l truly miss him.

  2. Nancy and John; Sorry we could not get together this spring but Bill was so special I remember almost every opportunity we had to see him. His sense of humor was beyond description and his constant and often cryptic remarks were unforgettable. Y’all were blessed with great parents…and you have learned well!! Freddie

  3. Dear Mr Watkins was such a staple of my life growing up… He and Mrs W (Helen) were the longest-term friends of my parents; Mrs W and my mother led a Girl Scouts troop together and Mr W (as I affectionately called him) was a constant friend to my parents and us children growing up. I loved his stories—he was such a fabulous raconteur—I loved his sense of humour and I loved both Mr and Mrs W. His passing truly marks the end of an era but I know that both he and Mrs W have met up with my parents and are spinning some fun yarns 🙂