Elbert Louis “Hank” Watkins Sr., 91, of Heyworth, passed away peacefully Saturday (April 20, 2019) at Heritage Health, Bloomington.


He was born April 14, 1928, in West Frankfort to Harry Louis and Elsie Fern (nee Chance) Watkins.


He is survived by his wife of almost 70 years, Betty Rae (nee Hungate) Watkins, Heyworth; five sons, Micheal (Colleen) Watkins, Hartford, Kan.; Elbert (Susan) Watkins, Glencoe, Mo.; Stanley (Sue) Watkins, Bloomington; Kevin Watkins, Bloomington; and Jeffrey (Leslie) Watkins, Colonial Heights, Va. He is also survived by 14 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren and a brother, Billy Ray Watkins.


He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Randall Albert Watkins.


Elbert served in the U.S. Navy from 1946 to 1948. Following his honorable discharge, he met Betty, and they were married on June 25, 1949.


After several years in southern Illinois, they relocated to Clinton, where he was a lineman for Illinois Power for 26 years. Elbert was a proud member of the IBEW and owned Watkins Tree Service.

He was a hardworking man with a strong work ethic. Upon his retirement in 1988, Elbert and Betty moved to Independence, Va., and built their dream log home. They later relocated to Carmi, and then Heyworth, in 2016.


He enjoyed politics and his time as streets commissioner in Clinton and mayor in Independence, Va. Elbert was a devoted Cubs fan and enjoyed doing jigsaw puzzles. He loved his role as “Paw Paw.”


A life celebration is planned for late June.

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