It is with great sadness that we announce that James Keith Watts, 83, went home to be with the Lord on July 11, 2019. Jim was born February 2, 1936 in Rogersville, Missouri. He grew up on a farm as a boy, but his family eventually moved to California.
Jim attended high school in Claremont Ca, graduated in 1954 and joined the Air Force in 1955. Originally sent to Chicago, the Air Force quickly realized his technical potential and made him an instructor.
Eventually Jim was transferred to Norton AFB, Ca. His parents lived nearby in Bloomington, and there he met his lifelong partner Darlene, who lived next door to them. They married in 1957.
They moved to Santa Maria in 1960. Jim went to work for Martin Marietta as a missile technician at Vandenberg AFB. He spent 27 years there, being promoted to an engineer and eventually Chief of the Space Shuttle's Cryogenic Propellant Systems Group.
In 1987, he transferred with Martin Marietta to a job at the Boston Air Traffic Control Center. He finished his 33-year career in Nashua, NH.
Jim is survived by Darlene, his wife of 62 years; his son Steven Keith Watts and wife Virginia of Santa Maria; his step brother Bob Litty of Ohio and his foster daughter Marlo Stivers. He was preceded in death by his son Timothy Alan Watts and his parents Otho and Anne Litty.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jim's name to the Tim Watts Memorial scholarship fund at Allan Hancock College (AHC Foundation, PO Box 5170, SM 93456).
A Celebration of Life will be held on August 17, 11 am, at The Element Christian Church, 4890 Bethany Lane, SM 93455. Following the church service, we will be hosting a get-together at the Machinist's Hall, 3265 Orcutt Rd, Santa Maria, Ca. (just South of Waller Park on the frontage road).
To plant a tree in memory of James Watts as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.