Dr. Donald Morgan Watkin - Ilion NY

IHS Class of 1939

Donald Morgan Watkin, M. D.

1939 Ilion Yearbook - Donald Watkin
Donald Watkin IHS 1939 Mirror


Donald Morgan Watkin was born on June 17, 1922, in Waterford, NY. He was the only child of Earl P. Watkin and Mary Ellen Morgan (Watkin). His father was appointed Superintendent of the Ilion School District in 1923. His mother was a music teacher and at one-time taught music at Clinton schools. The Watkins made their home, in Ilion, on John Street.

When he was a junior in high school, Donald Watkin won a League of Nations Association essay contest. His prize was a long trip to Europe and the rare opportunity to meet political leaders and other officials overseas.

He graduated as Valedictorian of the Ilion High Class of 1939. He was only sixteen years old at the time he graduated. He then attended his father's alma mater, Hamilton College, in the fall of 1939.

Donald's father, Dr. Earl P. Watkin, died in his Superintendent Office, at the Ilion High School, on February 17, 1954. Earl Watkin was 63 years old. Mary Ellen Watkin, the widow of Dr. Earl Perry Watkin, later married Charles Gordon; a member of the Class of 1904 and brother of Miss Ruth 'Goosie' Gordon, IHS history teacher. Charles Gordon died at the age of 86, on December 22, 1973 and was buried in Fairview Cemetery, Westfield, NJ. Mary Ellen (Morgan) Watkin-Gordon died on October 16, 1988. She was 99 years old and was buried in Armory Hill Cemetery next to her first husband, Dr. Earl Perry Watkin.

Donald Watkin married Virginia Guild Watkin in 1946. Virginia (Guild) Watkin graduated from Wellesley College in 1946, and Columbia Law School in 1949. She went on to become an attorney and partner in a Washington, DC law office. They were parents to two sons, Henry M. and Edward G. Watkin and two daughters, Mary Ellen Watkin and Ann K. Watkin-Statham.

Donald Watkin's college years and subsequent illustrious medical career were chronicled in the Hamilton College Magazine - Class of 1943 Necrology section, in the Spring 2008 edition. Most of the text from that article is included below."

"He joined his father's fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, and enthusiastically participated in the Debate Club and public speaking contests, as well as campus publications and Hamilton's newly launched radio station, WHC. He served as managing editor of Hamilton Life and newscaster on WHC in addition to membership on the Interfraternity Council. Elected to both the forensic and journalism honoraries Delta Sigma Rho and Pi Delta Epsilon, he also graced the Dean's List for four years and was graduated with honors in biology in 1943. By that time, "the chief globe-trotter" of the class, influenced in part by his introduction on the Hill to the biological sciences, had embraced medicine as his future career."

"In the midst of World War II, Don Watkin entered Harvard Medical School under the auspices of the U.S. Navy's V-12 program. He earned his M.D. degree in 1946, and on June 22 of that year he was married to Virginia Guild in Brooklyn. Specializing in nutrition and gerontology, he engaged in postgraduate training in clinical and research medicine until 1951. That year, he began his long career with the federal government in the U.S. Public Health Service as a senior investigator in the gerontology section of the National Heart Institute in Baltimore, MD. He was subsequently employed for six years as an investigator in the metabolism section of the National Cancer Institute in Washington, DC, and as attending physician at the National Institutes of Health's clinical center in Bethesda, MD."

"Beginning in 1960, Dr. Watkin was able to resume his "globe-trotting" as a nutrition advisor to the Pan American Health Organization in Mexico City and consultant to the Interdepartmental Committee on Nutrition for National Defense in countries ranging from Brazil and Peru to Egypt, Iran, and Pakistan. He assisted in numerous international health and nutrition surveys and directed those carried out in Libya, the eastern Caribbean, and Paraguay. Don Watkin also served as an associate professor of nutrition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and acquired a master's degree in public health from Harvard University in 1965. He chaired the panel on aging of the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health (1969-70) as well as the technical committee on nutrition of the White House Conference on Aging (1970-77)."

"Dr. Watkin, who, by 1966, was with the Veterans Administration in Washington as chief of research in nutrition, gerontology, and gastroenterology, served for a year (1968-69) as field director of the New York State nutrition program and health survey. From 1973 to 1978, he directed the national nutrition program for the elderly in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. In 1979, he became a research professor of health sciences for George Washington University School of Medicine, and in 1981, he began the final phase of his 42 years in federal service when appointed chief of the occupational health division for the Federal Aviation Administration."

"Until his retirement as manager of the employee health branch in 1995, Dr. Watkin was responsible for the health and health-awareness programs for all of the FAA's 50,000-person workforce. In the early 1980s, after President Ronald Reagan had fired all the air traffic controllers who had gone on strike, he was involved in the huge task of medically evaluating some 8,000 newly recruited replacement trainees. Through the years, he continued to lecture and consult abroad, including China under sponsorship of the World Health Organization. A past chairman of the Explorers Club's Washington Group, he also trod the path of adventure by making several trips to Antarctica and other remote parts of the world. Often joining him in his overseas jaunts was his wife Virginia, who continued to pursue a distinguished career of her own as a partner in the prestigious Washington, DC, law firm of Covington & Burling."

"All of Don Watkin's remarkably varied activities and achievements reflected his highly methodical mind, devoted to precision. They included authorship or co-authorship of more than 125 articles on nutrition, gerontology, and public health in medical and scientific journals, as well as the Handbook of Nutrition, Health, and Aging (1983). Amidst his myriad activities he always remained close to Hamilton, which he credited with providing him with "the blueprint for an optimum life." A devoted supporter of the College in many volunteer capacities, including fund-raising activities and membership on the Alumni Council, he also served his Class as a dedicated and ever-faithful correspondent for this magazine for more than 25 years. In 2005, he defied ill health and physical infirmities to attend the dedication of Hamilton's new Science Center. Fittingly in recognition of his pioneering research on vitamin B-12, nutrition, and aging, an area in the Center has been named in his honor."

"Donald M.Watkin, despite years of illness and physical debilitation, maintained a sunny disposition, a sharp mind, and a lively interest in the world's happenings until the very end. He died in Washington of complications of diabetes on October 29, 2007. In addition to his wife of 61 years, he is survived by two sons, Henry M. and Edward G. Watkin '79; two daughters, Mary Ellen Watkin and Ann K. Watkin-Statham; and four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren." Source - Spring 2008 Hamilton College Magazine - 1940s Necrology - hamilton.edu


The Donald M. Watkin 1943 Hamilton College Scholarship

The Donald M. Watkin 1943 scholarship was established by his widow, Virginia 'Ginny' Watkin, in memory of her husband, Donald Watkin, Hamilton Class of 1943. Over the years, Dr. Donald Watkin maintained close ties to Hamilton College. He served in a wide variety of volunteer capacities including fund raiser, class correspondent and as a member of the Alumni Council. Source - 2015 Hamilton College Scholarship and Prizes - hamilton.edu - Leslie Moseley Rioux '87, Director of Donor Relations


Superintendent Dr. Earl P. Watkin Ilion Central School District - February Cover Story 2014 - www.ilionalumni.com
Donald Watkin The Mirror For 1939 - page 20 - The New York Heritage Digital Collection - Ilion Free Public Library Yearbooks Collection
Donald Morgan Watkin Hamilton College Magazine Spring 2008 Necrology 1940s - hamilton.edu
Donald Morgan Watkin '43 Hamilton College Magazine Spring 2008 Necrology 1940s - hamilton.edu
The Donald M. Watkin '43 Scholarship Hamilton College - hamilton.edu
Dr Earl P. Watkins Armory Hill Cemetery - Ilion, NY - findagrave.com (Note - his last name is misspelled on findagrave as Watkins instead of Watkin.)
Mary Ellen Morgan Gordon Armory Hill Cemetery - Ilion, NY - findagrave.com (Note - his last name is misspelled on findagrave as Watkins instead of Watkin.)


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Published October 4, 2021