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Melvin Hardy Watson, later to be known simply as "Buddy," was born on May 4, 1917, to John Hardy and Bessie Boswell Watson. He was the only son born to the couple who also had four daughters. Their names are: Glennie Watson (Godwin), Audrey Watson (Boykin), Mae Watson (Godwin), and Armento Watson (Hales). The entire family was reared on a farm about two miles west of Kenly, North Carolina.
During Buddy's adolescence, his mother passed away. To fill the void, his father's sister, Casa Watson Morris, helped care for him and the other children. This was the first of many times that the Watson family — and especially Buddy — would rely on each other when difficult times demanded. The sense of family responsibility and selfless giving were a major influence on how Buddy grew up and caused him to decide to live his own life in the same way.
Buddy's father was involved with several businesses and often included his son in his daily life. Buddy often helped in his father's tin and bicycle shop located in Kenly and at the tobacco co-op warehouse that Hardy managed. One adventure that Buddy especially remembered having with his father was the year the family went to Alabama to instruct farmers on how to grow tobacco. They were there for an entire year, demonstrating how to grow the crop from seed to harvest. At the end, the tobacco had to be shipped back to North Carolina because Alabama did not yet have a tobacco auction. Amid the work that year, Buddy also remembered going to the Gulf beaches in Florida for a little fun. The Watson family’s year in Alabama was later written about in the 1927 Sanson Ledger in Sanson, Alabama.
Returning to North Carolina, Buddy continued to help with family businesses, especially with his uncle Henry Watson who owned a hardware store and oil company. Soon, however, Buddy would become a mentor and father-figure himself. His sister Glennie had married and produced three children, but Glennie's husband died suddenly leaving the family in some straits. Buddy filled part of the void by helping his sister on her farm and raising the children. An especially strong bond formed between Buddy and Roy, Glennie's son. Buddy taught Roy everything from tobacco farming to having a strong ethical standing. For the most part Buddy became Roy's father, and the two remained especially close until Roy's death in 2001.
Along with caring for Glennie's children, Buddy also promised his aunt Casa on her death bed to take care of her daughter Ruby. Ruby moved in with Buddy's family shortly afterward. Carl Watson, Jr. was also taken in by Buddy when the boy was about twelve. Carl would later become the president of Nolan and Company and often credited his success to Buddy's efforts in raising him and to be a good, honest, and hard working person. Buddy also helped out his sister Mae's son Jimmy Godwin for a time, giving him a place to stay and work along with helping to pay for his education at North Carolina State University. Jimmy, like everyone else, said he could not have succeeded in life without Buddy's help.
Buddy has spent most of his life caring for his extended family, but did find love in his fifties. It was then he married Mina Grey Davis and finally became a husband after being a father-figure for so long. Buddy still lives in the Kenly area and gives of himself as always. His influence will be felt by family members and friends for generations to come.
This Honorarium was given by Constance Godwin Boykin and Glenda Godwin Creech.