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Johnny Ace Watson

January 11, 1949 — July 2, 2022

Johnny Ace Watson

On Saturday, July 2, 2022, Johnny Ace Watson, passed away at the age of 73 after a courageous battle with Alzheimer's. Johnny was born to Elsie Irene and Carl ("Bud") Watson in Palo Alto, CA on January 11, 1949. Johnny was a standout three-sport athlete, playing football, baseball, and basketball at McClain High School in Tulsa, OK, where he was recently inducted into the school's Hall of Fame. Johnny earned a football scholarship to the University of Oklahoma in 1969 where he played both defensive and offensive line. Johnny was the first selection from any Oklahoma school in the NFL draft in 1971, chosen by the San Francisco 49ers to play on the offensive line. He started at Left Guard, Left Tackle, Right Guard, Long Snapper and one year played every position on the offensive line to fill in for injuries. His NFL career spanned 9 years, playing from 1971-77 with the 49ers and from 1977-80 with the New Orleans Saints, when his career was cut short due to injuries. After retiring from the NFL, Johnny moved to Moore, Oklahoma to raise his family. Later he lived in Norman, Tulsa, Grove, and Tahlequah, Oklahoma, before returning to Oklahoma City. Johnny was humble about his playing career but loved sports and continued going to OU football games with friends and family as long as he could (in the same great seats he'd had for 40 years). Johnny always loved vehicles, from the Oldsmobile Cutlass he bought to head to the NFL, to the many trucks he purchased every few years in his later life. He was extremely generous, donating to many charities that touched him over the years. Johnny was preceded in death by his father, Bud, his mother, Irene, and his sister, Naja Hofbauer He is survived by his brother Mike Watson, his three children, Lindsay Watson, Taylor (and Koby) Orndorff, and Travis (and Lauren) Watson, and six grandchildren, who knew him as Papa John. His children and brother will celebrate his life in San Francisco for a private service to spread his ashes as he had always wanted. Donations in his memory for CTE research may be sent to the Boston University CTE Brain Bank at https://www.bu.edu/cte/financial-support/ [[][[]]bu.edu].
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