Mr. Watkins was Publisher and Chairman of the Board of the Providence Journal-Bulletin beginning in 1974. His journalistic career began in Dayton, Ohio, in 1934, and he came to these newspapers in 1945 as assistant to the publisher. Throught his leadership and direction, Rhode island's major news sources became considerd among the finest in the nation. In 1974, The Journal won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for a story detailing President Nixon's small tax payments.
Watkins served as publisher of The Journal for 25 years, from 1954 to 1979, and retired as chairman of The Providence Journal Company in 1985. He also encouraged the company to expand into other areas. The Providence Journal Company eventualy aquired two radio stations and a cable television system. In addition to shepherding the business side of The Providence Journal, he was known for dispatching page proofs to editors with grammatical errors or misused words circled in red, the newspaper said.
He was a leader in his profession as a past President of the Inter-American Press and Daily Newspaper Association. He was a retired U.S. Air Force Luitenent Colonel, earning many honors as a WWII fighter pilot.
John Watkins married Helen Danforth in 1943 and the couple had four children before divorcing in 1959. In 1960, he married June Watkins, a former actress, who died in 1989. The legendary John Watkins died at the age if 87 on August 30, 2000 due to complications from a broken hip and a stroke.
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