Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hall of Fame: Dr. Jill

The Good Doctor!
One of the problems I knew I would face when I started the Youth Group Hall of Fame section of this blog nearly two and one half years ago was thinking I would leave people out who should be included.  I realized then- and know now- that this would probably bother me a lot more that it does those whom I may slight.  But it does perturb me when I realize someone has been left out of this most prestigious and quite fictitious institution.  This past Saturday as I wrote the post Sometimes People Die, I realized just such an omission.  Dr. Jill Painter Watson is not yet in the HOF.  It is easy to see how I missed it.  Jill is featured in many of my Kissimmee posts, including such classics as Speeding For Jesus, July 10, 1997 (the Geoff Moore concert) and The Best Worst Week Ever!  Fortunately, since I am still alive, well and writing, this is a problem easily fixed.

Chip Lips!
Jill was already active as a Youth Counselor when I arrived in Kissimmee in 1994, and she was every youth pastor's dream volunteer.  First of all, she was a pediatrician, an actual medical doctor.  If you are in student ministry long enough, you will see your share of bumps, bruises and fake angina attacks (bless you, Scott B.), and it is ALWAYS nice to have an M.D. on the scene.  Jill was single at the time, and was always open to hosting youth in her home and parties at her pool.  I have no idea how much of her food those youth consumed over the years, but I suspect small towns could have survived quite nicely.  Marilyn and I were welcomed to FUMC-K with a pool party at her home.  It also meant she had time to travel with us- and she did.  Jill was part of many memorable ski trips, mission trips, NYC trips and weekend getaways.  She took the leadership reigns for the 1995 mission trip to Spanish Wells when I could not go because Will was due to be born, and along with Cathy Thacker led a team to Memphis to work in the summer of 1996.  She was part of our team on Sunday nights, Wednesday nights and just about any other time we opened the doors to the youth room. She was always willing to share her faith journey with the youth and with the team.  I could always count on Jill.

Our relationship was a joy right from the start.  I had not been in Kissimmee long at all when Jill informed me that there were two things that let her know she was going to like me.  First of all (and this was crucial) I was older than her.  She had not been happy that the previous youth pastor made her feel old.  And secondly (and this was weird!) I had bought new ink pens for the youth room.  Apparently this had not been done in a very long time, and venturing out to make such an important purchase made me a hero in her eyes.  You take what you can get, right?  She was special to me for many reasons, not the least of which included her love for the students we served and the fact that she came to the delivery room around 11 PM the night Will was born even though she was taking our youth to the Bahamas on a mission trip at 6 AM the next morning.  That is friendship.  

Marilyn & Dr. Jill in NYC!
We shared so many great times together.  I remember one particular Youth Ministry Team retreat when I sent her grocery shopping with way too much money, and she and her co-conspirators came back with one of everything!  I remember almost choking to death on the bus while she laughed hysterically, and then having Vern Watson teach us the international symbol for choking. :)  I remember praying with her at a couple of important moments in her life.  I remember going to NYC with a group of adults from FUMC-K that included Jill and her Aunt Gerry (spelling?), and that it was her aunt that first introduced us to Carmine's.  And most of all I remember bribing her with chocolate cobble at Cracker Barrel so she would keep going on trips with us. I still try to use that bribe today, and I think I owe her 3 at this point!

Jill still lives in the Orlando area with her husband (and fellow HOF member) Brian Watson.  They have adopted two beautiful boys from Russia.  I look forward to the day we can get together again, hang out a Cracker Barrel, laugh hysterically, and eat a whole bunch of chocolate cobbler.  But until then, Jill- welcome to my Hall of Fame.  Overdue, but much deserved!  We love you guys!

Because of Jesus,


  1. Amen, amen. The Watson/McCleery clan is good people. Every last one of them is rock solid.

    1. So true, Jacob. So honored to have had all of them be part of our youth family during those years!

  2. Jill was my mentor during my time through confirmation and I grew to looooove her so much!! I miss seeing her always smiling face (as I miss everyone from back home!) but was blessed to see Jill at my wedding shower almost 5years ago!! I also got to see her mother-in-law, "Grandma Watson". I agree that the Watson/McCleery family are awesome!!! Definitely blessed to know Jill!

  3. Anonymous5/16/2012

    Carl, Thank you for your kind words and wonderful memories. I'm honored to be included in your Hall Of Fame, but even more blessed to have been part of that ministry. I truly believe that I received more from our youth than I ever gave to them. I would have done it all without the chocolate cobbler, but it was really good!!!
    Dr. Jill

    1. You are the best, Jill! Cannot imagine having survived those years with out you!


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