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Hon. David W. Watt Jr. 1943-2017

Hon. David J. Watt Jr.Retired Judge of the 1st Judicial Circuit Court David W. Watt, Jr., 74, of Murphysboro, passed away at 2:04 a.m. Monday, October 2, 2017, at his residence in Murphysboro in the company of his wife and sons.

David was born on April 19, 1943, in Springfield, Illinois, to David W. Watt, Sr. and Marietta (Cullen) Watt.

David was a 1961 graduate from the Springfield High School in Springfield, Illinois. He did his undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, graduating in 1965. He was a member of the Theta Delta Chi Fraternity and served as the business manager of the University of Wisconsin Daily Cardinal. He received his law degree from the University Of Illinois College Of Law in 1968 and was admitted to the Illinois Bar that same year. He was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1977. From 1968 to 1970, he served with the Jackson County State’s Attorney’s Office and from 1970 to 1980 with Hendricks and Watt; and from 1980 to 1982, a partner with Hendricks, Watt and Grace.

In 1982, Watt was appointed to the bench as an associate circuit judge for the 1st Judicial Circuit Court of Jackson County. In 1988, he was elected a resident circuit judge. In 1990, he became the presiding judge of Jackson County. He was retained by voters for additional six-year terms in 1994 and 2000, and continued to serve as a judge in Jackson County until he retired November 30th, 2003.

During his legal career Judge Watt was a board member of the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation; member of the Illinois State Bar Association serving at times on the Board of Governors, the Justice Section Council and the Assembly; founder and president of the Southern Illinois American Inns of Court; served as one-time Director of the Illinois Judges Association; was a member of the Jackson County Bar Association serving at times as secretary and president; and served on the Illinois Appellate Defenders Commission. 
In 1984, he received the Award of Excellence and Meritorious Service from the Illinois Public Defender Association. He also was a speaker on “Litigating Skills”, Practice Skills for new Lawyers with the Madison County Bar Association and the St. Clair County Bar Association at the ISBA Law Education Services Seminar in 2002.

David married Candace Koehn on August 14, 1972, in Murphysboro and she survives. He was a devoted husband and father throughout 45 years of marriage. After his retirement David enjoyed rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals and Wisconsin Badgers, taking his dog Snickers to Lake Murphysboro, volunteering for Meals on Wheels, traveling to Las Vegas, spending time with his friends at the Elks Lodge in Murphysboro, breakfast at Cindy B’s, and gifting nail files and keychains to his newest friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother Rick Watt, and one sister-in-law Sandra Flynt.

His body will be cremated and visitation will be from 3 to 6 pm Friday, October 6th at Pettett Funeral Home, 1418 South Street, in Murphysboro with celebration of life and sharing of memories along with food and libations to follow at the Elks Lodge in Murphysboro at 1809 Shoemaker Dr. In lieu of flowers, Judge Watt had preferred that his family and friends remember him by making a memorial in his name to the Murphysboro Food Pantry or to the Alzheimer’s Association. For more information, please visit

Posted on October 3, 2017 by Sara Anderson