Watts, 75, NU alumna and Garrett registrar

Erin Ailworth

About 300 people gathered at United Methodist Church last Wednesday to remember a woman many regarded as an “institution” at Northwestern.

Vera Largen Watts, 75, a registrar at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary for 28 years, died of cancer on March 23 while staying at Wagner Health Center in Evanston where she had volunteered.

Watts was one of those people who looks after everyone, said Mike Fehland, the manager of activities and volunteer resources at Wagner Health Center.

Many times when a person “gives their all” to everyone else, no one is left to comfort them, but Mrs. Watts always had visitors, Fehland said.

As the daughter of a Methodist minister in Fayetteville, Tenn., Watts was guided by her faith, said Patty Baker, the assistant to the academic dean at Garrett.

Watts earned a bachelor’s degree from George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville and a master’s degree from Northwestern in 1953.

After working with various prayer and church groups, Watts spent 12 years as a director of Christian education in Methodist churches in Florida and Georgia before accepting a position at First United Methodist Church in Evanston.

Watts eventually left the church for Garrett, where she acted as an assistant to the dean of students and the academic dean.

She stayed with the seminary through three presidents and five deans, and acted as a mentor for female students at Garrett in the 1960s and 70s.

“She was here when there weren’t a lot of women, and one of her areas of service and hospitality was to care for the women who were here,” said Peggy Magee, the registrar who replaced Watts when she retired in 1991.

Watts always tried to keep track of students after they graduated and tried to follow their careers, Magee said.

Active even in retirement, Watts entered a Clinical Pastoral Education program and became a volunteer chaplain at Wagner Health Center, where she visited people in “need of the love and care of a chaplain,” Fehland said.

Watts is survived by several nieces and nephews.