Joseph C. Watkins Sr., a retired millwright who enjoyed riding the railroad, collecting model trains and playing Santa Claus, died Jan. 6 of complications after surgery at York Hospital in York, Pa. He was 81.
The son of Carlton H. Watkins, a steelworker, and Rose Selig Watkins, a homemaker, Joseph Carlton Watkins Sr. was born and raised in Sparrows Point, where he attended public schools.
After serving in the Air Force, where he earned his General Educational Development certificate, Mr. Watkins went to work at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point plant. He was a millwright there for more than 30 years, retiring in 1983.
The former Middlesex resident, who had lived in Delta, Pa., for the last 25 years, earned the sobriquet of "Mr. Joe" when he served as a greeter for a decade at the Shrewsbury, Pa., Walmart.
For many years, Mr. Watkins played Santa Claus at the Delta Senior Center and other community venues.
"He loved greeting children from his front porch as they walked past his house to and from Delta-Peach Bottom Elementary School," said a daughter, Laura Yanney of Bryansville, Pa.
He volunteered for many years in the emergency room at Fallston General Hospital.
In addition to visiting railroad museums and riding trains, Mr. Watkins was an avid collector of model trains, stamps and coins. He also enjoyed fishing at Ocean City and at Nags Head, N.C.
He attended Oak Grove Baptist Church in Churchville.
A celebration of Mr. Watkins' life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Delta Church of the Nazarene, 6610 Delta Road, Delta, Pa.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Watkins is survived by his wife of 57 years, the former Georgia Lee Luby; a son, Joseph C. Watkins Jr. of Delta; another daughter, Katherine Fielder of Churchville; a sister, Irma Mesmer of Norfolk, England; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.