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August Neighbor: Don and Anna Belle Watson

August 30, 2013
By KAYLA VAN DYNE - Staff Writer ( , Times Leader

FOR DON and Anna Belle Watson, volunteering and helping others is just a normal part of daily life. The couple, both 82 years old, are still very active in their community, whether it is serving as a trustee or treasurer or just preparing dinners.

"I just like to (volunteer). It helps others," Anna Belle said. "It just makes you feel good to be able to do something for others."

"I don't do what I used to," Don said. "I try to be (a jack of all trades). I do what I can do."

Article Photos

Don and Anna Belle Watson of New Athens are August’s “Hey!?That’s my Neighbor” honorees. They were nominated by their neighbor, Betty Bland.

Both are very active in their church, New Athens Methodist Church, where Don serves as the trustee and Anna Belle as the treasurer. Together, the couple has helped with the Franklin Museum in New Athens. Don, along with serving as the trustee of the Franklin Museum, has made countless repairs in the building, often times considered the "jack of all trades." Anna Belle heads the Franklin Gourmets, which prepares the dinner that are served at events held at the Franklin Museum. According to Anna Belle, the museum has four dinners a year. These dinners help with the upkeep of the museum.

"I have always liked to cook and can," Anna Belle said. "I have a lot of good ladies that are willing to help (cook and serve), and we work good together."

They have been involved with the museum since they beginning. Anna Belle became treasurer in 1994. Anna Belle used to volunteer at Eastern Stars Hospital and is still a member.

Don and Anna Belle are also known for their large garden, and much of what they grow every year is given to friends, neighbors and family. Don still cuts his own firewood for his wood burning stove and sharpens chainsaw blades for people.

"If you are doing something, you're not thinking about your ailments," Don said.

Don and Anna Belle were nominated for the "Hey! That's my Neighbor" honor by Betty Bland.

"They are friends to countless people and help many who do not know where the help comes from," Bland said. "My mother had been ill for over two years, and during this time, Anna Belle was a very good friend. I do not know what I would have done had she not been there to talk to. She has helped me through the loss of my mother."

Don and Anna Belle are graduates of Franklin High School, Class of 1948, and have been married for 63 years. It was shortly after being married, the couple moved to Canton, where Don worked for Timken. The couple returned to New Athens where they owned and operated a gas station for many years, and Don would work on customers' vehicles. He would never over-charge, and when families were facing tough times, Don would not charge them at all.

Between running a mail route and pumping gas for customers, Don was elected and served as the Athens Township Trustee seven times. The gas station was still opened when Don went to work for Consolidated Coal Company, and he worked there for nearly 20 years. Upon leaving Consol, Don went to work for the Ohio Department of Transportation as a mechanic at the state garage in Cadiz.

The couple have six children, nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

"I don't think we have tried to influence them in their politics and religion," Don said. "We mind our own business."

Anna Belle makes homemade cookies nearly everyday for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and she always has a few stashed in the freezer. Anna Belle said that all of them have their favorites.

Both Don and Anna Belle like to keep busy and are always doing something.

Don is a seven year cancer survivor and suffered a heart attack last year, though it made him slow down some.

"The doctors told him to go home and sit on the couch and do nothing. He didn't know Don very well. He never did sit on the couch and do nothing. He starts early in the morning," Anna Belle said.

"We are thankful to be able to keep moving and busy," Don said.

"Don and Anna Belle are very special people," Bland said. "They are truly a wonderful couple."



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