Jene Watkins, 79, passed away Wednesday, July 17, after battling a lengthy illness.
Jene was born June 21, 1940 in Wheeling, WV, to John W. and Doris Smith Watkins. He was raised in Smithfield, Ohio, and attended Smithfield High School, graduating in 1958. Jene was an outstanding student and athlete and received a football scholarship to The Ohio State University, where he played for Woody Hayes and was a member of the 1961 National Championship team.
He was a member of the Army ROTC at OSU and was Commander of the Army ROTC Corp his senior year. Jene was also enshrined into the SPHINX Senior Honorary Society for academics and leadership. After graduation, Jene served in the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas.
After his military service, Jene began teaching and coaching in Cleveland City Schools. He chose to move his family back to Smithfield to be closer to family and his elderly parents. In 1967, he began his career as a coach and teacher at Steubenville High School. In 1973, he was promoted to principal of SHS, a position he held until 1986. He was then promoted to Administrative Assistant with the school district.
In 1995, he retired after 30 years as an educator and went to work for Jefferson County Head Start. Indian Creek came calling, and he was offered the position of Principal at Indian Creek High School. After several years in that position, Jene was named Superintendent of the school district.
Over the course of his career, Jene served on the Ohio High School Athletic Association Eastern District Board and on the OHSAA Board of Control. He was a member of the Jefferson County Mental Health Board and the EGCC Foundation Board. Jene was also a life member of the Ohio State University Alumni Association.
He retired at the age of 70, but spent time over the past nine years as a substitute teacher and the branch coordinator of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Jefferson County. It was not until 2017 when Jene retired completely.
Jene was known for his willingness to help those in need and for his unwavering and tireless commitment to public education. He worked his entire life in the service of helping others and instilled the importance of education in his children. He will always be remembered for his Buckeye legacy, his homemade spaghetti with meatballs, and his made-from-scratch chocolate chip cookies. Jene was a Civil War enthusiast, he played the grand piano, and he loved classical music.
Jene is survived by his long-time companion Dolores Tarr of Brilliant, OH; daughters Dane Watkins of Steubenville, OH, Ali (Mike) Mohr of Gainesville, VA, Jill Watkins of Phoenix, AZ; sons, Jonathan and Evan Watkins both of Los Angeles, CA; and five grandchildren: Jeno Atkins, Brady Bortnem, Alina Jackson, Ella Bortnem, and Maxwell Mohr.
He was preceded in death by his brothers, Jim, John and Jay; sisters Jessie and Joann; and their parents.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Jene’s name to either the Indian Creek Foundation or Steubenville City Schools foundation.
Calling hours are 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Thursday, July 25, 2019, at Mosti Funeral Home, Sunset Chapel, 4435 Sunset Blvd., Steubenville, Ohio.
To honor Jene’s memory, you are encouraged to wear your Ohio State gear.
Offer condolences, www.mostifuneralhome.com