Northeast Florida Association of REALTORS® member William A. “Bill” Watson, Jr. was honored as the winner of the 2021 Spirit of Advocacy Award by Florida Realtors® during the state trade organization’s convention and expo Sept. 26.
This award honors a member of Florida Realtors® who has demonstrated excellence in advocacy at the local board, state association, national association, and community within the governmental or political arena over their lifetime. Monetary donations are not a consideration for the award.
Mr. Watson is chairman of the board of Watson Realty Corp., a family-owned firm with more than 50 offices and nearly 1,400 sales associates throughout Northeast Florida, Central Florida, and southern Georgia. He is a 1959 graduate of Stetson University with a degree in real estate and insurance. He entered real estate profession in 1960 and started his own firm in 1965 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Mr. Watson was honored with the award due to his lifetime of service as an advocate for the real estate industry. At the local level, he has voted in every election since 1961. Florida’s 10-mill limitation on school taxes exists because Mr. Watson and a colleague introduced legislation to the Florida Speaker of the House in 1968. He served on the Board of Governors Multiple Listing Service from 1967-1975. He was president of the Jacksonville Area Mortgage Brokers in 1966 and president of NEFAR’s precursor, the Jacksonville Association of Realtors in 1968.
At the state level, Mr. Watson organized the largest Legislative Days in history with 2,500 Realtors® attending in 1981. The event is now called Great American Realtor® Days and continues to serve as a dedicated forum enabling REALTORS® to meet their legislators and share their voice on issues of importance to all Floridians. Over the years, he has chaired or been a member of numerous committees for Florida Realtors® including as District 1 vice president in?1973, and Florida Realtors® president in 1981. He has been a member of the state association’s Board of Directors since 1962 – and, since 1961, has only missed the Florida Realtors® convention twice.
At the national level, through the National Association of Realtors®, Mr. Watson was one of 20 Realtors in 2003 who met with Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, and made a presentation to the board.
In Northeast Florida, the list of committees and local organizations that Mr. Watson has chaired or been a member is extensive. In 2011 and 2012, he served as the chair of the Board of Directors for the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and continues to be a member of that board. He served on the 1966 Advisory Committee to the local Government Commission that recommended consolidation of the City of Jacksonville and Duval County. Mr. Watson also is a past member of the Mayor’s Economic Council for Jacksonville and a former director of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce for many years. He also served for more than two decades on the Executive Board of Baptist Medical Center, consisting of five hospitals.
Mr. Watson has been the recipient of many awards and recognition including:
- President of the Jacksonville area Mortgage Broker’s Association in 1966
- President of the Jacksonville Multiple Listing Service in 1967
- President of the Jacksonville Board of Realtors in 1968
- REALTOR® of the Year for the Jacksonville Association of REALTORS® in 1972
- Honored by the Sales and Marketing Executives Club of Jacksonville as a recipient of the Top Management Award for 1976-77
- Distinguished Alumni Award in 1980 from Stetson University
- President of Florida Realtors® in 1981
- 1994 Circle of Honor Award from Jacksonville Association of REALTORS®
- REALTOR® of the Year, 1995, Florida Association of REALTORS®
- Recipient of the Northeast Florida Builders’™ Association’s Pillar of the Industry Award™ in 1995
- Received CRB’s Hall of Leadership Award™ in 2004
- Received the Presidential Lifetime Service Award™ from the Northeast Florida Association of REALTORS® (NEFAR) in 2004
A dedicated advocate for private property rights, Mr. Watson is clearly a strong voice for REALTOR® engagement and investment, and he represents the real estate profession at its best.