Roy M. Watkins

Roy M. Watkins is a prominent member of the Kent county bar who has achieved success in his profession upon his own merits and at the same time carried forth the honored traditions of the Watkins family, established by his father and grandfather who have preceded him in membership in the Michigan state legislature and in other civic responsibilities. Roy M. Watkins was born in Rockford, Michigan, October 17, 1874. He received his common school training in Rockford and was graduated from the high school of that community in 1892. He continued his education with a course at the University of Michigan and was graduated from the law school of that institution in 1899. He then located in Grand Rapids and in 1901 was appointed to the position of state examiner of taxable inheritances, in the auditor-generalís department, and thus became the first examiner of all the probate courts in Michigan, which position he filled for four years. In 1905 he resumed the practice of his profession, in partnership with his father, Major E. C. Watkins, a leader at the Grand Rapids bar. Major Watkins was a son of Milton C. Watkins, who located in Kent county in 1844. Milton C. was a farmer by occupation but in taking an active interest in the civic affairs of his community had represented his district in the Michigan state legislature, both in the house of representatives, in the senate, and constitutional convention of 1867. He died May 16, 1886, at the age of eighty years. Major E. C. Watkins, the father of Roy M., served in the First New York Cavalry in the Civil war. When he was discharged from the military service he returned to Grand Rapids, but later went to Rockford and purchased the water power site and there operated two sawmills and one flour mill. He followed the example of his father in civic service and was elected to the legislature in 1873 and again in 1875, being speaker pro tem during the latter session. He was appointed United States Inspector of Indian Affairs, which office he held for four years, serving under Secretaries of the Interior Zachariah Chandler and Carl Schurz. On July 1, 1881, Governor David H. Jerome appointed him as warden of the Michigan Reformatory at Ionia, and in that position he rendered creditable service for a period of ten years except during an interim of two years during the administration of Governor Josiah W. Begole, a Democratic governor. In 1891 Major Watkins returned to Rockford, Michigan, and continued until 1896 in the milling business, when he disposed of his milling interest and resumed the practice of law. He continued to carry on an active practice until his death on April 14, 1911. His wife was Julia Brown, of Deerfield, Massachusetts. She was born January 30, 1837, and died June 27, 1899. Roy M. Watkins not only followed the work of his father in the legal profession but likewise followed the example of his father and grandfather in public service. In 1907 he supplemented the public service which has already been mentioned by accepting an appointment as probate register of Kent county, which office he held until January 1, 1912. He then again returned to the practice of his profession. In the fall of 1914 he became the third representative of the Watkins family to serve as a member of the Michigan legislature upon his election to a seat in the house of representatives and served for one term. In 1918 he was again honored by his constituency, this time being promoted to the state senate from Grand Rapids, and served in 1919 and 1920. He continued the practice of law in Grand Rapids. In July, 1921, he was appointed assistant United States district attorney, which duties he filled with credit until his resignation on February 1st, 1924, to again resume the practice of his profession. He was appointed on the committee to dedicate the Michigan monument at Shiloh Battlefield on May 30, 1919, while serving as a member of the state senate. August 24, 1909, Mr. Watkins married Miss Lucretia R. Shipp, of Grand Rapids. Mrs. Watkins has served on the board of directors of the Womenís Lincoln Club and is an active member of the Randall division of the Fountain Street Baptist church. The Watkins have one son, Donald S., who was born on June 5, 1913. During the World war Mr. Watkins served as a member of the city draft board and was secretary of the Third division as well as serving as a private in the Sixteenth Battalion Infantry, Michigan state troops. In fraternal circles he is a thirty-second degree Mason and a member of Saladin Temple Shrine of Grand Rapids. He is also affiliated with the Knights of Pythias, I.O.O.F., M.W.A., and K.O.T.M., and also holds membership in the L.O.O.M. and Eastern Star. Mr. Watkins is a member of the Lions Club and in professional circles is active in the Grand Rapids and Michigan State Bar Associations.

Transcriber: Nancy Lesser
Created: 4 March 2003