John A. Watkins · 1984
Mr. Watkins began his newspaper career in 1926 with the Daytona Beach, Florida News-Journal as editor (it was owned at that time by Eugene C. Pulliam, owner of the Indianapolis Star-News). In 1929, Watkins became publisher of the Linton Daily Citizen, which was also owned for a time by Pulliam.
In 1937, Mr. Watkins purchased The Evening World and was active in the publication and management of the newspaper until the time of his death (February 26, 1973), with the exception of the period when he served as Lt. Governor of Indiana, and during World War II when he served in the Army of Occupation.
He was past president of the Hoosier State Press Association, past president of the Indiana Democratic Editorial Association, and was a member of Sigma Delta Chi professional journalistic fraternity and the Indianapolis Press Club.
He served as Lt. Governor under the late Governor Henry F. Schricker from 1949 through 1952. He was the Democratic nominee for Governor in 1952 and was defeated by George N. Craig during the Eisenhower landslide.
He was a staunch advocate of veterans organizations and served as State Commander of the American Legion, in 1940-41, and served as Post Commander of the American Legion Post in Linton, Indiana, and was 7th District Commander, and Southern Vice Commander.
Thought he was a veteran of World War I and did not face service during the second World War, he volunteered for service during World War II and was commissioned a Major in Military Government. He crossed France and Western Germany with the 2nd Infantry Division, establishing a military government in various German cities until he reached his assigned destination as Military Governor of Bamberg, Germany, a city of 200,000 population. He left the service at the close of the war as Lt. Colonel and returned to Bloomfield to resume his newspaper activity.
Mr. Watkins was Charter President of the Crane Area Council of Navy League of the United States, and later served as State President and National Director of the Navy League.
He was a member of the United Methodist Church in Bloomfield. Other organizations which Watkins was a member were The Bloomfield American Legion Post 196 (life member), Worthington VFW Post 7117; Bloomfield Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite Valley of Indianapolis, Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A.; Southern Indiana Chapter No. 328 of National Sojourners (past president); Retired Officers Association; Association of the U.S. Army; Bloomfield I.O.O.F. Lodge; Worthington K of P Lodge; Bloomfield Rotary Club, and Linton Elks Lodge. He had served as member of the advisory council of the executive board of the White River Council of Boy Scouts, as an area director of Wabash Valley Association, and was a director of the Bloomfield State Bank at the time of his death.
His widow, Lilliam M. Tucker Watkins, still resides in Bloomfield and is active in church and social organizations. His daughter, Nancy Watkins Dowden, and husband J. Elmo Dowden, who were in partnership as owners of The Evening World from 1956 to 1973, became sole owners of the World and News in 1973 until they sold the newspapers in 1979 to William C. Miles. Mr. Watkins’ granddaughter resides in Indianapolis (Denise Dowden Baily).