Archie Slaton Watkins lost the battle with pancreatic cancer Thursday, May 16, 2019, but won the victory through Jesus Christ and escaped the sting of death. He was born Jan. 13, 1944, the fifth son to Elvis Lenwood “Tex” Watkins and Frances Margarite Hughes, in Borger, Texas.
He was named for two of his mother’s brothers and when he was little they lived near Uncle Archie, so they called him Slaton. Later they moved closer to Uncle Slaton and he became Little Slaton. Adulthood and the US Army changed all that and he became known by his first and last names. To family and close friends he remained Slaton. To new acquaintances, he introduced himself as Archie.
Archie had a wanderlust that had him packing his house and tools every six months or so and moving. Some of his buddies called him “the Six-Month Wonder” because it was a wonder if he didn’t wander every six months.
Archie met the love of his life, Eulene Brannon at the Allison Café in Quemado, New Mexico. She was just 16 years old and had been swimming in the Salt Lake Crater, 20 miles north of Quemado. Unknown to her, they had shut the water off at the salt barn and there was no place to rinse off after the swim, so salt crusted in her hair and on her face and skin. He said it was love at first sight and three months later they were married.
Archie was a trader! He often joked that he’d tried several times to trade his wife to the Natives, but they wouldn’t take the bait because they wanted a woman who would work hard. It was not unusual for him and his cronies to gather around the kitchen table, swapping stories, guns, tools, cars or whatever they had in their pockets and swilling gallons of coffee.
Archie had a marvelous sense of humor. When his nephew, Mathew was less than two years old and in his and his wife’s care, he decided when Mat learned to talk he would learn big words, so he and a friend taught him to say big words, like “powersaw,” “motorcycle” and “horsesh*t” much to his mother’s delight.
He became a licensed firearms dealer in 1969 but was planning to retire the business in August when his current license expired.
Archie was a man's man and believed in working hard to support his family. He worked in the log woods and sawmills for his dad, Charles Holliday, Ralph Holliday; as a mechanic and gas jockey in his own service station back when full service was a real thing. In the 54 plus years of his marriage he was only out of work for 30 days one January and again in 1976 when he developed a circulation problem in his hands due to a birth defect, aggravated by being a heavy duty mechanic for Howard Ramsey. He was declared disabled for four years, but when his hands healed he rehabilitated himself and attended police academy in Snowflake, NPC and became a cop.
He served as a law enforcement officer for eight to nine years in Springerville and some of that time was spent as the chief of police there. Leaving Springerville PD he worked as a sheriff’s deputy then later took the job of constable for a few months.
Shortly after becoming constable, wanderlust struck again and he moved his family to Wisconsin on a working vacation. However there is no place like home and Springerville roots run deep and he moved his family back to Round Valley.
He and his wife operated the Pancake Cottage Restaurant for seven years. It was during that time that Archie went to work as a heavy duty mechanic for Apache County Roads Department in Eagar. He retired from there in February 2009. After retirement, he spent the next six years working around their home in Eagar, pruning trees, digging up thorn bushes and fencing yards.
He leaves behind his wife, Eulene of 54 plus years; three daughters, Dahli Paulson of Springerville; Tami (Lance) Pipkin of Springerville; Tessa (RJ) Lauria of Columbia Falls, Montana; a daughter-in-love, Sonia Crow Moring of Albuquerque, New Mexico, whom they took in when she was a teenager; 14 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, younger brother, Bill (Dottie) Watkins, Florida, numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Archie was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Walter, Jim, Harvey, Thomas Watkins and sisters-in-law, Violet and Mary Ann Watkins.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 28,at the Jesus First Church, 138 N Hwy 180 in Eagar.
For those who have special memories and would like to leave an online condolence for Archie’s family, visit www.burnhammortuary.com
Burnham Mortuary of Eagar handled arrangements.