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Joseph L. Watson, a founding partner of law firm
May 12, 1921 -- Jan. 22, 2007

A Mass of Christian Burial for Joseph L. Watson, a founding partner of the Buffalo law firm that still bears his name, will be offered at 11 a.m. Friday in Christ the King Catholic Church, 30 Lamarck Drive at Main Street, Snyder.

Mr. Watson died Monday in a hospital in Naples, Fla., after suffering a stroke at home. He was 85.

"Joe was a lawyer's lawyer. He was a mentor to many of the partners that are here now. We owe a great deal to Joe," said James Bennett, senior partner at Watson, Bennett, Colligan, Johnson and Schechter. The firm dates back to the 1940s partnership of Mr. Watson and the late Alfred L. Hetzlet Sr.

Mr. Watson, a native of Bath, attended the University of Notre Dame and was a graduate of the University of Buffalo Law School. He began his practice shortly after returning home from World War II, where he served in the Army Signal Corps in North Africa and Italy.

"Joe was an excellent trial lawyer, very highly regarded by everyone in the legal community," Bennett said.

"When he started, it was just three attorneys and two other employees. We've got 15 attorneys now and 29 total employees," Bennett said. Although he retired from full-time work about eight years ago, Mr. Watson remained "of counsel" to the firm until last year.

A director and secretary of the Park Country Club in Amherst and a member of the Imperial Golf Club in Naples, Mr. Watson was an avid golfer especially known for his driving ability.
"He could hit it straight," Bennett said. "Everything was radar straight with Joe."

"He was especially proud of his two holes-in-one in Florida," recalled his wife, the former Anne Vogel, whom Mr. Watson married in October 1948.

Survivors also include a daughter, Joanne Rubano of New York City; a son, William of Cheektowaga; and a sister, Rita Sullivan of Bath.


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