Steven F. Watkins

Vera and Steve Watkins

Pomona professors Marty Fuller and the late R. Nelson Smith gave me a vocation and demonstrated the joys of science, research and teaching. During my last year in Claremont, I found my second love - music. Bill Russell introduced me to the choral literature for which I am eternally grateful; I have participated in many choral performances over the past 40 years but have found few works with the personal emotional resonance of Brahms' Requiem.

After earning a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) in December 1966, my new wife (Linda) and I spent one-and-a-half wonderful years at the University of Bristol in England. I joined the chemistry faculty of Louisiana State University in the Fall of 1968 where I have remained except for brief sojourns to Brookhaven National Laboratory and the University of Houston. My children, Bryn and Dan, were both born in Baton Rouge in the early '70s but now live in South Carolina with their own families (no grandchildren as of this report). Bryn is a computer systems specialist and Dan is a chemist.

Following a bout of colon cancer and diagnosis of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1986, my priorities changed, to say the least. I remember asking the young oncologist in post-op what the prognosis was, and he said "probably six months to a year". I decided there was no point in aggressive therapy, so after sixteen years I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don't think about cancer any more, and have none of the anxiety I had during the first couple of years.

My marriage to Linda slid slowly and painfully to an end by 1995, but I was very lucky to meet and fall in love with the beautiful woman in this picture. Vera, 12 years my junior, describes herself as a "country woman" - she was raised on a working farm in rural Louisiana near the little village of Waterproof. She attended Southern University here in Baton Rouge during a year of bloody civil unrest. Her daughter is almost exactly my daughter's age (30), and her two boys are 19 and 17. Only the youngest (Eric) still lives with us; Elihue joined the Air Force last year and is stationed near Fairbanks, while Loretta lives and works in Houston as a financial specialist.

Vera brings an enormous amount of joy, love and laughter to our house. She is a strong, proud woman who demands and gets respect, and I have learned a great deal from her. My proudest moment? No contest - marrying Vera.