December 25, 1937 - July 29, 2021
Funeral Home Russon Mortuary Bountiful
Steven Lee Watson passed away peacefully in his home in Millcreek, Utah on July 29, 2021. He was well-loved by all and will be missed.
Steven Watson was born in 1937 on Christmas Day, in Salt Lake City, Utah to Joseph and Stella Lee Watson.
As an only child, he became very close with the neighborhood boys. After proving that he had some athletic talent, he was welcomed into their softball, basketball, and touch football games on Sherman Avenue. He was usually picked last since he was the youngest of the boys, but it taught him to work hard to get better. He didn’t know it then, but sports would really define who he was and what he wanted to be.
He mentioned that sports were “my way in” when really, they provided him a way out of a difficult childhood. His aunts and uncles checked on him regularly—Aunt Verda Lee dressed him in the nicest clothes from ZCMI and Uncle Harold B. Lee took him on special outings to BYU vs Utah ballgames. Learning to cope in his family situation taught him to remain calm in a crisis, a skill that would benefit his career greatly later in life.
He excelled in football, basketball, and baseball in high school and was All-State in all three sports. He loved to tell stories about his glory days at East High School. His talents provided him with a football scholarship at Stanford University. However, he soon realized that his true passion was baseball so he asked the university if he could switch the scholarship to baseball. They agreed! Stanford always held a special place in his heart. Unfortunately, tragedy struck his family after only one semester at Stanford, and he returned home to Salt Lake to support his mother. He put his athletic dreams on hold for a bit while he worked at the railroad but eventually ended up signing with the Cincinnati Reds organization.
He played in the minor leagues for a few years and was shuffled around within the organization. Two seasons in a row, he started in Savannah, Georgia and then was sent to play in Wenatchee, Washington where he met his sweetheart.
While eating at one of the cafes in Wenatchee, he ran into an old schoolmate from Salt Lake who was serving as an LDS missionary in the area. He mentioned to Steve that there was a girl that he should meet and that she was the hostess at a local restaurant.
He quickly made his way to the restaurant for breakfast. Even in his 80s, he can still describe the first time he saw Hila Morrison. “She was wearing a navy-blue shift. She had blonde hair and big blue eyes.” Although she was the hostess, she came to take his drink order. He said, “I’ll have milk and my name is Steve!” He invited her to his baseball game that evening and she came. Six weeks later they eloped.
Although Steve did not grow up in an active LDS family and didn’t necessarily consider himself a religious man at the age of 21, he remembers kneeling down in a little flower patch outside of Hila’s apartment and praying about marrying her. The answer was clear that she was the girl for him. When he asked her to marry him, she responded with, “Of course!” That always made him giggle. He called Hila his anchor. They were later sealed in the Salt Lake Temple.
They had welcomed several children into their home when they realized that balancing the minor league lifestyle, injuries from pitching, and family life was harder than they anticipated. He decided to leave baseball and started working in the social work field which led him back to Salt Lake City.
As his family grew, so did his social work career. He worked at places like Job Corps and youth ranches helping adults and young people achieve their goals. Through the years, he obtained an undergraduate degree from the University of Utah and eventually received his Master of Social Work, as well. He called himself a psychotherapist, but his six children referred to him as a “psycho therapist.”
With his MSW, he was able to open his own private therapy practice which remained active for over 40 years! He saw his last client in January of 2020 at the age of 83. He was dedicated to helping people live their best lives and work through trauma. He used these talents at Weber Human Services and was an adjunct professor at the University of Utah, Weber State, and Westminster College.
Steve and Hila enjoyed dancing the jitterbug in their living room to their children’s delight, bowling, going on breakfast dates, and road-tripping. Their time together was interrupted at 47 years when Hila passed away in 2006.
His time as a bachelor was short and he soon asked Sue Shelton (thrice!) to marry him. They began their adventure together in 2009. They spent Steve’s golden years traveling to bucket list locations like Ireland and Germany. Steve learned to whitewater raft and rock crawl with Sue’s family. He wouldn’t let Sue forget that he stayed in the vehicle during a cliffhanger trail while she bailed and walked around the tricky part. They shared the same “sick sense of humor” and could often be found joking into the wee hours of the morning. After she’d survived a very bad marriage, Sue said Steve “restored my faith in the institution of marriage!” Family and clients often mentioned how Sue was much happier after marrying Steve, or “Bucket” as her family lovingly called him. Sue was with him, holding his hand when he graduated this life.
Steven is survived by five of his children: Toni (Poncho), Keri (Mark), Wendi (Matt), Kyle (Anna), Deb, as well as his current wife Sue and 7 stepchildren. He was the proud grandpa of 11 grandkids and 36 great-grandchildren. He was a foster father and father figure to countless others. He was preceded in death by his sweetheart Hila, their oldest son, Scott, and his parents.
Funeral services will be held at Noon on Tuesday August 3rd at the Winder 3rd Ward located at 4551 S 1200 E, Millcreek Utah. A viewing will be held at 10:30a on the same day.
Steven will be interred at Washington Heights Memorial Park, 4500 Washington Blvd, South Ogden, UT 84401.