- Courtesy Photo
- David Watts
On January 16, 2021, David died in his sleep on the couch with the New Yorker magazine at his side. His heart appeared to fail him after 75 active years. If you knew David at all, you knew him entirely; he was just as he appeared: generous, kind, enthusiastic, principled, optimistic and loving — no pretension and a real mensch.
The best day of his life — David stated often and emphatically — was the day he became a father. He adored his three sons, Tucker, Ethan and Brooks Bond-Watts, and his wife, Lynne Bond — partner and collaborator in parenting and adventure. Delighted as his family grew, David dearly loved Tucker’s wife, Kristen; Brooks’ wife, Diana; and their children, Katie (4) and Misha (3). His niece Molly was like a daughter to him; his brother Lanny Watts was his very best friend; his sister Linda Watts was a dear lifelong connection; Omar Granados became an “honorary son.” David got such joy from his family and friends, and from their families and friends. The circle was ever-expanding, and David ever-welcoming.
A day on the ski slopes, camping in the woods, canoeing and roaming the world with friends and family, especially his sons, brought David pure delight. He got such joy from people; what he loved best about his occupation as a lawyer was his opportunity to “learn everyone’s stories.” Nothing satisfied him more than working with family, friends and clients to find ways for life to flow more justly and smoothly.
Born in Middletown, Conn., on April 23, 1945, to Fay Bennett and Rowland Watts, David grew up in Usonia, N.Y., an experimental, collaborative community his parents helped to shape. The commitment of Usonian community members to social justice and equity profoundly affected David’s goals and actions throughout life — his pursuit of a legal career and volunteer activities focusing on social justice, economic and housing equity, developmental disabilities rights, and family law; as well as his generosity and skills in collaboration, especially supporting those with limited resources.
A graduate of Haverford College (1967) and Antioch School of Law (1975), David established strong friendships that remained central to his adventures and soul-searching conversations throughout life. He began his legal practice at Vermont Legal Aid, acting on what he preached and believed. The majority of his law practice was shared with Stephen Blodgett, an important partner, mentor and friend. Paul Volk subsequently joined their firm, as well. David was “thinking about retiring” next December 2021 (at age 76!).
Of David’s many community and volunteer activities, perhaps most important to him was his shared leadership of Volunteer Vermont. In response to the racist arsons of many southern Black churches during the mid-1990s, David helped to organize youth and adult service trips from Vermont to Summerton, S.C., for 15 years, to rebuild community centers and places of worship. He was also instrumental in founding the nonprofit, Volunteer Vermont, LLC, to raise money for building supplies and trip expenses.
Given the pandemic, no formal gathering or celebration of David’s life is currently planned. We know David would encourage donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU and any local food shelf.