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Originally published: 2012-11-19 15:59:22
Last modified: 2012-11-19 15:59:22

Robert Phillip Watkins

Robert Phillip Watkins, 78, died Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, at Hospice House surrounded by family, after a brief illness with cancer.

Phillip was born Oct. 4, 1934, in Petersburg, Ill., to George Samuel and Helen Taylor Watkins. He was a graduate of Petersburg High School. While attending Illinois College in Jacksonville, Ill., he was drafted into the U.S. Army for service during the Korean Conflict. After leaving the Army, he attended and graduated from Tri-State University in Angola, Ind., with a BS in Electrical Engineering.

Phillip had a 30-year career which began with General Motors in Milwaukee, Wis., where he worked on the Apollo Space Program. He later moved to Bloomington/Normal, Ill., working for General Electric in marketing. In 1976, he transferred to the GESCO division of GE in Raleigh, and later became the Marketing Manager for the GE Industrial Solutions Division in Mebane, until retirement in 1995.

Phillip was an avid fisherman and hunter. He was a loyal Chicago Cubs and Bears fan, but he was also a diehard Duke basketball fan. In retirement, he enjoyed time spent on fine woodworking and cabinet making projects, but more than anything he cherished the extra time spent with family and friends, especially his grandchildren.

Phillip was a member of St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church after moving to Raleigh. In retirement to the North Carolina High Country, he was a member of St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church in Boone. After moving back to Raleigh, in order to be closer to family, he was a parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.

Phillip is survived by his wife of 55 years, Reta Robinson Watkins; daughter, Christine Rich-Hanson of Champaign Ill.; sons, Brian and wife, Cheri, of Raleigh, Andy and wife, Lisa, of Apex, and Bradley and wife, Chantal, of Wake Forest; nine grandchildren; one great-grandchild; also a sister, Georgia L Zarvell of Peoria Ill.

He was predeceased by a brother, David P Watkins, and a grandchild, Erin Elizabeth Watkins.

Visitation and Vigil Service were held at Renaissance Funeral Home in Raleigh, 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. A Funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Raleigh 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov.r 20, 2012. Private burial service was in Blowing Rock.

Online condolences may be left at http://www.rfhr.com.

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