Bernard Joseph Watkins Sr., a retired Aberdeen Proving Ground engineer, died Nov. 29 at Good Samaritan Hospital. Family members said he suffered a stroke in 2007 but no cause of death has been determined.
He was 59 and lived in Northeast Baltimore.
Born in Baltimore, he was the son of James Clarence Watkins, a Lever Brothers worker, and Elizabeth Clare Watkins, a General Electric cafeteria worker. He was a 1971 graduate of Edmondson High School, where he played varsity football, basketball and lacrosse.
"As a child, he loved to play with marbles. He was the champion of the neighborhood at 1703 W. Fayette St.," said his sister, Victoria Mosley of Ellicott City. "He loved to play basketball and was a fierce competitor who made neighborhood teams drool to have him on their side. He was the image of his father, a leader, caretaker, perfectionist, hard worker and was also modest. You rarely heard him utter an unkind word about anyone."
Mr. Watkins won an athletics scholarship to the University of Maryland, College Park, where he spent two years. Family members said he decided to concentrate on his studies instead of sports and earned a degree in mathematics from Morgan State University, where he also played lacrosse.
He became a field engineer for the U.S. Army Material Systems Analysis Activity division at Aberdeen Proving Ground and worked there for 28 years. During his tenure, he had assignments in Korea. He retired in 2008.
Family members said his children and grandchildren were the center of his life.
Services will be at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the March Funeral Home, 1100 E. North Ave.
In addition to his sister, survivors include his wife of 32 years, the former Bernice Vanessa Cooper; a son, Bernard Joseph Watkins Jr.; two daughters, Tasha Alverta Watkins and Janean Dionne Watkins, all of Baltimore; a brother, Eli Richard Watkins of Baltimore; two other sisters, Eleanora Hall of Baldwin and Alverta Fields of Randallstown; and four grandchildren.