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Denis Watson

Denis Watson

Colleagues will be very sorry to learn of the death, on 3 October 2011, of Mr Denis Watson, former Senior Technician in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Born in 1930, Denis Watson served his apprenticeship as a Toolmaker with the Hunslet-based firm of Crabtree-Mann Ltd between 1946 and 1951.  Having completed his apprenticeship, he was retained by the company as a skilled Toolmaker and remained a valued employee until he left in 1971 to take up a post as technician in the University.

Within the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Denis worked initially on a series of externally-funded research contracts. He established himself as a versatile and highly competent colleague and, in 1980, was promoted to be the Lead Technician in the Materials Laboratory. This brought with it a wide range of responsibilities, including the development and safe operation of specialist testing facilities; supporting undergraduate classes in solid mechanics, materials and engineering applications; and the manufacture and development of experimental rigs for postgraduate research and industrial consultancy contracts. Denis excelled in all aspects of his work. One of the defining characteristics of his career at Leeds was his ability to adapt to evolving technologies and changing circumstances. Thus, at the beginning of the 1980s, he equipped himself with the necessary competence in computing and electronics to enable him to master the sophisticated technology, notably microprocessors, which was revolutionising the measurement and recording of test data. Similarly, towards the end of his career, he proved equally adaptable and resourceful in the reorganisation of the Materials Laboratory to incorporate Automobile research, and also in assuming sole responsibility, in the wake of the departure of a colleague, for provision of the Laboratory’s specialist strain gauge service, an area calling for technical and practical skills of the highest order.  Denis retired from the University in December 1995.

Denis is survived by his wife, Gladys, and son, Tony.

The funeral service will be held at Lawnswood Cemetery and Crematorium, Otley Road, Leeds 16, at 11.00 am on Friday, 14th October 2011. In memory of Denis Watson, the flag will be flown at half-mast on the Parkinson Building on that day.