Barbara Jane Wilson Watson

Barbara Jane Wilson Watson was born a Salt Lake City girl on June 2nd, 1928. Her parents Milton Theurer Wilson and Mildred Rider Wilson raised her as the proper young lady. Growing up on the east side, she naturally attended East High School, 1944-1947, and then The University of Utah, 1947-1950.

Majoring in History, she jumped at the chance to be a reporter for the University newspaper. This is how she met the promising basketball star from St. George, Utah, Leon Milne Watson. Her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, voted Leon the basketball player with “the best legs”. After interviewing Leon for the school paper Leon ask Barbara for a date. To which she replied “No”. This sparked the challenge and intrigue. When her sorority wondered who could be the first to date ‘Mr. Legs’, Barbara knew she had the inside track. Seven months after this first “No”, they finally went on their first date. Barbara and Leon were married on November 21, 1947, in the atrium of the Garden Park Ward in Salt Lake City. Their honeymoon was a forgettable trip to Boise, Idaho. They were later sealed in the St. George Temple.

Their first child Kyle Richard made his appearance in 1948. Barbara did not want to live in unbearably hot, St. George. Their move to Utah’s Dixie, in 1950, was to be only temporary with employment offers and enticements in the Golden State of California. But like George Bailey, they never left town. Barbara joked that she would begin crying at the Point of the Mountain in Salt Lake County and would not stop until arriving in St. George. It took many trips back to Salt Lake City and Las Vegas to ease the burden, but eventually, they both settled into a lifetime of Southern Utah accomplishments.

Second son, David Leon was added in 1952 and a surprise blessed daughter Tracy in 1964. Barbara set up ‘shop’ in St. George in a little green house on 200 south next door to her in-laws D.C. and Nan Watson. She was constantly organizing gatherings, birthday parties and trips for her friends and families. She would take the kids hiking in Pine Valley and Zion’s National Park, organized swimming gatherings at the St. George City Public Pool, Twin Oaks and Sands motels on the Boulevard and made weekly summer visits to the ever-popular Veyo Pool.

The Dixie Drug Store was the business center for the Watson family from its beginning in 1914. Ownership passed to Leon and Barbara in the early 60’s. Barbara was constantly at the Dixie Drug Store, located at 28 East Tabernacle. She would wait on customers, order seasonal items and supervise the greeting card display. Son, Kyle was a pharmacist at the Drug store until his untimely death in 1979. Daughter Tracy worked at the Drug store through her high school and college years. David sold drinks and candy bars but wasn’t much help with the customers.

Barbara loved to travel. She and Leon visited many of the car-accessible site in the United States. Leon would not fly. They took family trips to California for the beach and to visit sisters Loie and Toni, both living in California. They visited Yellowstone Park, the National Parks of Utah and surrounding states and a few trips back East to New York, Chicago plus many of the Civil War sites. She traveled with her band of ladies referred to as the ‘Road Runners’. Barbara traveled with her family and friends to more distant places such as Italy and Paris, for cooking schools; visited Ireland and Germany, cruised the Caribbean, Alaska and the South Sea Islands.

Since St. George was lacking a few offerings, Barbara, the reluctant transplant, decided to bring the big city to the small town. She helped bring to St. George, musical, theatre and artistic performances.

A few of her service titles include: Organizing the Kiwanianne Service Club in 1957; Vice-Chairman of the Dixie College Advisory Board; President of the Community Concert Series; President of the Bloomington Ladies; Founder and 1st President of the Southwest Guild; CHAIRMAN of the Board of Trustees, Dixie Regional Medical Center for 17 years; President of the Utah Academic Decathlon for 10 years; Member of the Red Hill Readers Theatre; Chairman of the Washington County 1996 State Centennial Committee.

A few of her honors include: St. George Business and Professional Womans’ Club “Woman of the Year”; Distinguished Citizen Service Award from Dixie College; Service to the Community Award from Southern Utah University; Woman of the Year, St. George Area Chamber of Commerce; Emeritus Alumna Merit of Honor Award, University of Utah and Trustee of the Year, Intermountain Health Care.

Unfortunately, Barbara’s life changed significantly when on November 23rd, 1991, Leon passed suddenly at the young age of 65. In spite of the loss, Barbara continued on with her community work, activity and service.

Then in 2003, she married Sarkis Arslanian, the legendary football coach and enjoyed 13 wonderful years with Sark and his family until his passing in December of 2016. They had an understanding. One theatre performance to one football game. He couldn’t stay awake for an entire performance, and she couldn’t tell you the final score, so this relationship worked out beautifully.

Barbara Jane Wilson Watson was proud of her family, her heritage, and her love for St. George. She will always be remembered as ‘The Classy Lady’ of Utah’s Dixie.

Barbara’s living family members include son, David Leon (Joanne) Watson, J.D.; daughter, Tracy (Stan)Winward, MD; Brothers Dee Wilson and Alan (Ann)Wilson; Granddaughters, Heather (Rich) Boland; Alisha (Jerrett) Shaw; Sharise Coray; Julie (Kaulin) Hinton; Andee (Steve) Ott and Alexis (Korbin) Ashby. Grandsons, Jeff (Tonya) Watson, Chad (Angel) Winward and Matt Winward. Great granddaughters, Paige Shaw; Bristol Shaw; Prezlie Watson; Kenzi Hinton; Dylann Ott; and Blake Ott. Great Grandsons: Rushton Shaw; Jett Hinton; Makai Hinton; Ethan Ott; Clarke Ott and Abraham Ott. Great-grandson James Taylor Boland passed in 2003.

Services: On Thursday, October 7th, a viewing will be held at Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 South Bluff Street, St. George from 6pm to 8pm. On Friday, October 8th, at 10:00 am Memorial Services will be held at the St. George 3rd Ward Chapel, located at 500 North on 200 West, St. George. On both occasions, the public is invited and encouraged. Masks optional at both events.

Family and friends who are unable to attend are invited to view the funeral service online by copying and pasting the link below in your browser:

Arrangements are made under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S Bluff Street, St. George, Utah. 435-673-2454. Family and friends are invited to sign Barbara’s online guest book at



6:00 – 8:00 pm

Second Visitation

No Second Visitation


10:00 am


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
St. George 3rd Ward Chapel
500 N 200 W
St. George, Utah


11:00 am
Tonaquint Cemetery
1777 S Dixie Drive
St. George, Utah

Guest Book

21 Responses

  1. Tracy and Dave,

    I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of your beautiful mother! She was indeed the classiest lady in town! The city won’t be the same without her, but she must be so happy to be with your dad and Kyle again. Can you just imagine the reunion going on in heaven right now? I am sure my mom and dad are there to hug her again, too.

    Much love to you and your families,

    Polly (Prince) Housley

  2. Dave and Tracy
    So sorry to hear about your Mother, sending my regards, she was a first class Lady that I held high regards for, I loved your Mom and Dad, my first real job at the pharmacy, your mom taught me a lot about presenting & appearance with the Hallmark sales, she will be missed by many.
    love Julie Larson Reber

  3. Dave and Tracy
    So sorry to hear about your Mother, sending my regards, she was a first class Lady that I held high regards for, I loved your Mom and Dad, my first real job at the pharmacy, your mom taught me a lot about presenting & appearance with the Hallmark sales, she will be missed by many.
    Sending love, Julie Larson Reber

  4. David and Tracey,
    We were so sad to hear of your mom`s passing. Because your parents and ours were friends, we saw them a lot during our years in St. George. She was beautiful, kind and a true friend. We will miss her.

  5. What an accomplished classy lady! So glad that Leon convinced her to move to St. George; without them we wouldn’t have her amazing posterity! Sure love and admire you all. Tracy, you are our rock and organizer extradordinaire just like your mom. So glad Barb and Leon were blessed to have you to bless our lives. Loved all the fun, laughs, ski trips, encouragement and learning at your gathering place house. Dave we appreciate you knowing and caring about us. She leaves a great lasting legacy. She will be missed!

  6. I enjoyed your mothers friendship over the years and especially the Jubilee of Trees years, she was a gracious lady and we will all miss her. She raised outstanding children and I have enjoyed watching you grow and follow in her foot steps.

  7. Tracy,
    Your mom was amazing for the things she did in the community. What a joyous reunion with your dad. I’m truly sorry for your loss. Sending lots of love and hugs right now.

  8. Tracy,
    What a beautiful person your mother was, inside and out. She always made everyone feel welcome and was always so kind and gracious. You will miss her terribly, but she is still there for you. You now have an angel looking out for you at all times. Lots of love to you.
    Kathryn Burgess

  9. Dave & Tracy,
    I loved your mom! What dear friends Leon & Barbara were to my parents! I have a lot of memories from parties, events, women’s trips, swimming at Veyo etc…. My life was greatly influenced by this beautiful lady! May you know that Dev & I have you in our thoughts & prayers at this tender time! What a legacy she left & influence she was to the St. George Community! Bless you all!

  10. Barbara served on college and history and community committees when we first came to Dixie.
    She was truly a classy lady who gave her time and talents in wonderful projects. She helped us raise money to restore the pioneer Opera House and we enjoyed all we learned from her. We send our love and sympathy to David and Tracy and her posterity.

  11. Barbara made an impact. Our entire community feels her loss. Sending sincere condolences to her family.

  12. Although I never had the privilege of meeting Barbara I have heard of her many, many accomplishments from friends and offer my condolences to her family and friends.

  13. Dave and Tracy
    Our entire family so loved your gracious mother she was so special to all of us. I remember coming to your home with my sweet grandma when Tracy was a baby. Of course Dave she was so special to all of us in school.
    She has been such an influence in our community and an icon that will be truly be missed
    Our prayers are with you.

  14. Dear Dave, Tracy, and family, it is hard to believe your mom has passed on. She has always seemed ageless. I remember her substituting in my P.E. class as a young girl, and trying to teach us how to be “ladies”! I’m sure that was a challenge. Watching the Watson kids grow up has been fun over the years! Your family has definitely touched my family and many others thru the years in St. George. She will be greatly missed! Hugs and prayers!

  15. Barbara js one of my most admired people. Always a lady and set a marvelous example for us all. Both she and Leon would walk into the Dixie College basketball ball games together. I don’t think they missed a game. She welcomed so many into her home and helped me with a costume for a performance at one time. Always well groomed, smiling and positive. What a great example of a life filled with service to our community and all around her. When Tracey was born She could not have been more radiant!! She was a dedicated wife, mother and daughter of God. She has left an impact on this community that will be hard to follow.
    Love forever to all her descendants.

  16. Dear David, Tracy, and family,
    We were very sad to hear about your mom. Barbara was such a fun, loving friend to our mom and dad. We have many fond memories of swimming at the Veyo pool.
    Love, Sue and Toni and the McGregor family

  17. Dear Dave and Tracy, I was so sad to hear the sad news of your mothers passing. I loved her too. She was such a great example of what a Lady should be. Our lives are all blessed to have known her and her kindness to others. Sincerely, Sally Ann Cox Osness

  18. As a neighbor across the street just of Diagonal, and a member of the same ward for many years, I have always admired and enjoyed my association with Barbara Watson and her lady friends, Faye Picklesimer, Claudine Cooper, Eldene Norton, and Edna Mae Sampson. My children delivered her paper for years and I’ve always appreciated her “lady like qualities” in the way she dressed, acted, and served our community. She has always been a service oriented person and worked hard to accomplish them, by the same token she enjoyed life with equally as much zest and commitment in her travels, dining, and associations.

    My love goes out to all her family and may you always cherish the memories.

  19. My goodness! We certainly have been out of touch. We are so sorry to hear of Barbara’s passing, especially after her services. We would have loved to have been there! Sending our love and condolences as the first year without your dear mother rolls on… May the Lord provide each of you the comfort you need. She has always been an angel to so many people in so many ways, and now she is yours. Bless you!

  20. I enjoyed watching Barbara’s services on line yesterday. I grew up in St. George and have known Barbara for many years. As a young girl I remember going to her home where she taught mutual girls etiquette. She was truly a beautiful, classy lady. She has served well in this community and will be missed!!!

  21. I am so happy for my acquaintance with Barbara for many years. I appreciate all she has accomplished and for her great example. I enjoyed my friendship with her son, Kyle during High School and my acquaintance with David and Tracy. I will never forget the Chocolate Malts I loved at Dixie Drug.

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