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March 2, 2013

Gretchen G. Watson

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Gretchen Garrett Watson, 32, of Charlottesville, Va., passed away Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. She was taken much too young by a heart condition, much as her brother, Ben, was taken at age 23 in 2005. She was the beloved daughter of Debra Arthur Watson of Charlottesville.

She is survived by her mother; her younger brother and his wife, Jim and Emily Watson of Fort Wayne, Ind.; her maternal grandmother, Norma C. Arthur of Roanoke, Va.; and by her much loved “Doodledog,” Dexter.

She was preceded in death by her father, Dr. Thomas M. Watson; her brother, Benjamin H. Watson; and her paternal grandparents, William and Margaret Watson.

Gretchen was born on Nov. 13, 1980, in Springfield, Ill., and grew up in Meadville, where she attended Allegheny College, earning a bachelor of arts in theatre and history and graduating with honors in 2003. While a student at Allegheny, she was awarded the Paul Henry and John V. Gilmore Prize for Outstanding Contributions to Theatre Arts. She was active, both on and off stage, in many Allegheny Playshop Theatre productions. She was also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. Gretchen and her mother moved to the Charlottesville area in July 2007. She was employed by the University of Virginia in the department of biology and had very recently been promoted to the position of biology academic administrative coordinator.

From an early age, Gretchen was drawn to the theatre and was involved in numerous community theatre productions in both Meadville Community Theatre and the Academy Theatre in Meadville. Among her favorite acting roles were the lead character of Jill Tanner in “Butterflies are Free” for the Meadville Community Theatre and that of JoAnne Galloway in the Academy Theatre production of “A Few Good Men.”

Gretchen dearly loved her family, playing with her dog, gourmet cooking, touring local wineries with her mom and studying the art of winemaking, watching quirky movies, creative writing, reading fantasy fiction and keeping up with liberal politics. She was an active volunteer, having worked as stage manager for the 2008 Live Arts production of “Sweeney Todd,” and having been a winery helper at Sugarleaf Vineyards. She possessed a strong work ethic, was an expert at organizing and innovating and was devoted to her job at UVa. Her favorite activity in recent months was hanging out in the kitchen with her mom, experimenting with new recipes and creating delicious things to eat.

Gretchen was an avid reader, unbeatable at trivia and a lifelong learner of all things. She possessed a brilliant mind and quick wit and loved nothing more than having serious, in-depth conversations and debates about a wide range of ideas and philosophies. She was a passionate supporter of women’s rights and human rights in general. Gretchen was an independent thinker who was fearless in standing up for her values and fiercely loyal to her friends.

Gretchen was a beautiful person, both inside and out. She was elegant, with a flair for style and fashion. She was creative, artistic, talented, edgy, empathetic, passionate, sarcastic, very intelligent, compassionate, determined, extremely sensitive, and modest to the point of not realizing the impact she had on the lives of everyone she touched.

Memories of Gretchen will live in our hearts forever, always as the beautiful, unique human being that she was. She will be greatly missed by her family and friends.

A memorial service to celebrate Gretchen’s life will be conducted on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, Unitarian Universalist, in Charlottesville. There will be a reception following the ceremony in the social hall.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

Friends may sign the guest register at teaguefuneralhome.com.

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