Dolores Mae Watkins of Mesa/Apache Junction passed away peacefully December 28th, 2022. She was born July 14th, 1931 to Joseph and Florence Koza in Evanston, Ill. She is survived by her husband Frank LaMar Watkins of 51 years, her family: Bobby (Laura), Tommy (Barb), Dale (Rosa), Lenora (Michael Falconer) Thompson and Susie (Kerry) Bumpas, Debbie (Steve) Fournier. She is also survived by her siblings Joe and Jerry Koza and Pat O’Donnell, Bernie Dutton.
Visitation will be at Bunker’s Family Mortuary at 33 N. Centennial Way, Mesa from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM January 4th. Services will be January 5th at 10:30 AM at Bunker’s Family Mortuary followed by graveside services at The City of Mesa Cemetery.
Dolores graduated from ASU in 1952 with a major in education focused on a teaching career. Her true love was soon found working with kids while teaching in Superior Arizona. She taught Home Economics while teaching class on pedal sewing machines with an outdated 48 star flag in her room. During her time in Superior she met and married Robert Frank Thompson a local jeweler that had just returned from WWII service. Dolores and “Bob” had four of their five children while living in Superior.
In 1962 the family moved to Apache Junction. Dolores continued to commute to Superior until 1968 when she began teaching in AJ. Her last child Susie was born in 1968; “Susie” was later adopted and raised by Dolores and LaMar Watkins her devoted husband of 51 years.
Dolores continued teaching in AJ and completed her Master’s Degree in Career and Technical Education in 1974. Although Dolores’ first love was teaching, she began working the administrative side of education due to her talent and needs of the school and community at large. Dolores worked on numerous grants and related one on one specialized student development programs.
Dolores was one of the founding members of the East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT) and later served in numerous board positions at EVIT including President.
It’s hard to state all the impact Dolores has had over her 64 year active Educational career. She served on numerous State and National level curriculum boards and committees to further education.
Dolores was driven to visit as many destinations as possible throughout the world with LaMar, friends and family. She often teased when her children were together by saying she should have drowned them in the bathtub while she had the chance. Her children at times called her by her 1970’s nickname given to her by a family childhood friend. “Wildflower”!
We will forever miss our mother and wife, rest in peace, YOU DID EXCEPTIONALLY WELL!
Arrangements by Bunker’s Garden Chapel, www.bunkerfuneral.com. Should this obituary appear anywhere but bunkerfuneral.com, please check our website for accurate details and service information.
Sending love and condolences to the family. Remembering attending LaMar and Delores’ wedding in Vegas. She will be missed.
In my 40 years of working in education, Dolores was certainly one of the most positive and dedicated educators I encountered. She, too, was certainly one of the most enjoyable colleagues I had the joy and good fortune to work with. She and her husband LaMar were one of the most welcoming married couples I would ever meet. I so enjoyed meeting and learned so much from her when I started my educational career at AJHS (1983-86). While I am saddened to hear of her passing, I am sitting here recalling our working days at AJHS with a smile. Great lady. God Bless her!
Wonderful to hear from yoou Rene. Certainly some great times in those days.
My sincere condolences go out to LaMar and the entire family.
Dolores was such a wonderful role model and friend for all of us educators at AJHS!
Murray and I were reading all of the lovely tributes and it reminded us of the exceptional teachers and staff AJHS had in the 80’s. We were so fortunate and didn’t fully appreciate it at the time!!! Mrs. Watkins was one in a million!!!
She was Mrs. Thompson when she was my home ec teacher in Superior in 1965ish. We would later reconnect in 1999 when I worked at Chase Field. She and Lemar, not Mrs. Thompson anymore, were season ticket holders in my section. It was fun getting to know her more than a student/teacher. My condolences to Lemar and family and all their friends I met while at the ballpark.
When i heard that Delores had passed i was immediately saddened, I had crossed paths with Delores for close to forty years. She was one of the greatest CTE supporters that AZ has ever had. dedicated to a fault and always wanting for students to have the very best opportunities. AZ has lost a truly great educator.
Long may she be remembered.
maximum opportunity. I was a west valley person so we only crosed paths professionaly, but When Delores spoke we all listened. She will be missed