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Rosa Lee Watson, widow of Doc Watson, has died

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Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012 4:33 pm

Rosa Lee Watson of Deep Gap has died, six months after the death of her husband, legendary guitar player Doc Watson.

Rosa Lee Watson, 81, died of natural causes at Glenbridge Health and Rehabilitation in Boone. She had suffered a series of strokes and had been in a nursing home for more than 18 months.

Her husband, Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson, died May 29 at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center after a fall at their home. He was 89.

The couple had been married for 64 years.

Their son, Eddy Merle Watson, died in a tractor accident in 1985. Doc Watson created MerleFest at Wilkes Community College in 1988 to honor him. The festival attracts thousands of roots-music lovers each year, and has drawn a range of nationally and internationally known performers, ranging from Steve Martin to Alison Krauss.

Doc Watson won several Grammy awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award over the course of his long career. He was a beloved figure in music circles here and abroad, and a legend in the northwestern North Carolina mountains where he was born and lived.

During the early years of her husband’s career, Rose Lee Watson and several other family members recorded traditional mountain music for the 1960 album, “The Watson Family.”

At MerleFest's Spirit of Sunday service in 2011, Watson told the crowd about his love for Jesus and told them about his worries for Rosa Lee. Hundreds of people at the Sunday morning worship service bowed their heads with Watson as the MerleFest chaplain said a prayer for her.

This year, on the last Sunday of the last Merle-Fest he would ever play, Watson asked the chaplain for prayers for Rosa Lee before the music started.

The chaplain did that and closed with “Bless, O God, I pray, Doc Watson.”

When Watson played his last song, the crowd rose to their feet and stood and cheered.

Funeral arrangements for Rosa Lee Watson are incomplete.

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