Madelyn “Kay” Watson, 77, daughter of Harold T. and Zula V. Johnson, granddaughter of Jesse and Opal (McKinney) Erwin, was born on Sept. 20, 1943, at Solo, Mo. She passed away on Nov. 22, 2020, at Ozarks Healthcare in West Plains, Mo., with her daughter by her side as she left this world and entered into her heavenly home.

Born from the Greatest Generation that ever lived, Kay learned from an early age how to make do and was quite resourceful.  It served her well in life as she was an excellent manager and greatly focused on details. 

As a young child, Kay attended grade school at Tyrone, Mo., as her family owned the Tyrone Country Store. It was after her parents moved back to the Solo community to work alongside Jesse and Opal, that she began attending Houston High School and met a handsome neighbor boy.  Kay’s father, Harold, and her brother, Loren,  belonged to a newly formed neighborhood horse-riding group called the “Solo Night Riders.”  That handsome boy was Jack Watson and together, they along with a host of family and friends, traveled many a mile on horse-back and made incredible memories as the couple courted.  Kay and Jack were married on Sept. 2, 1960, in Tyrone with an intimate family gathering surrounded by their loved ones.

Kay excelled at being a supportive marriage partner, maintaining a home as the couple welcomed two children, Sonya Lea and Troy Jaye.  Jack’s career path led the family to live all over Missouri, a short stint in Kansas, and 10 years in Illinois.  It was during those years, Kay became a master gardener, learned the art of cake decorating, and refinished furniture.  She could turn any ol’ worn out piece of furniture she purchased at an auction and turn it into a gorgeous heirloom.  Kay earned many ribbons for her intricate knitting and wedding cakes entries she placed in the county fairs.  The family moved back home to Solo, Mo., in 1976.  

Kay was an extremely gifted artisan, seamstress and an absolutely amazing cook.  Her chocolate angel food cakes and homemade rolls were just some of the family’s all-time favorites.  When her health prevailed, there was not a thing she could not attempt and do extra-ordinarily well.   Her Granny Erwin had taught her the love of sewing from an early age and Kay’s ability to sew anything she set her mind to came from years of making clothing for her family and taking advantage of every opportunity to learn new techniques/skills wherever she lived. One of the best sewing seminars she ever attended was the meeting of famed seamstress, Nancy Zimmerman.  She had gained much knowledge from this seamstress legend and was an extreme perfectionist when it came to her creations by hand and machine!

As the couple became empty-nesters, they took a rare week of vacation, traveled out east, and learned the lost arts of authentic basket making, broom-making, carving, and chair caning.  Jack would cut the tree down, together they would strip the reeds out, and Kay would then weave them into incredible masterpieces.  They would dye the newly formed baskets naturally using homemade walnut stain she would make from walnuts picked up on their farm. 

Kay’s creative spirit was passed down from her parents and grandparents as each of them were quite talented in so many ways.  Her creativity drive continues on in her two children and their families.

Jack and Kay worked side by side on their cattle farm before selling and moving to West Plains to be closer to their daughter and her family in 2016.  The couple remained members of Ozark Baptist Church and active members of the Ozark Baptist Cemetery Board.

Kay took tremendous pride in her family and dearly loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  They provided her with great joy. 

Kay’s parents and grandparents, along with a brother Loren Johnson preceded her in death. She is survived by her loving husband of 60 years, Jack, daughter Sonya Jones and husband, Jack of West Plains, MO; Jaye and wife, Kathy of Hot Springs, Ark.  Grandchildren:  Jenni Campbell (Brent), Christie Baker (Jimmy), Joshua Jones (Ali), all of West Plains; Deneall Goines (Greg), Tristian Watson (Brittany), all of Hot Springs.  Great-grandchildren Ava, Ben, Eli, Jacy, Silas, Amy, Liam and McCoy, all of West Plains.  Delila, Nick, Parker, and Syler, all of Hot Springs.

Kay’s services will be conducted at a later time when all the family can be together.  Memorials can be made in Kay’s memory to the Ozark Baptist Cemetery Fund, at Ozark Baptist Church, Houston, Mo.  Online condolences may be sent to


FACT CHECK See inaccurate information in this story? Tell us here.


Load comments