James A. Watson, MD, along with his sister, Inez, was born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of Henry, a merchant, and Inez, a schoolteacher. As a teenager, he would arise at 3 a.m. each day to sell vegetables in the town market with his father.
Encouraged to develop an interest in medicine by his family physician, Dr. Webb, James Watson went on to attend Hampton Institute and Virginia State College. He attended Howard University School of Medicine for his medical training.
At Howard, he had the good fortune of meeting Wenefrett Phillips and the two were married in her hometown of Marshall, Texas in 1944. They had five children: James, Jr., Cynthia, Janet, Geoffrey and Gary.
Dr. Watson interned at Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he served a rotating internship under Dr. Charles Drew, world-renowned surgeon famous for developing blood plasma.
After seven years of private practice in Washington, D.C., Dr. Watson served several years as Chief of Medicine at Edwards Air Force Base Hospital in California.
In 1956, Dr. Watson and his family moved to Oakland to enter private practice with Drs. Robert Taylor and Benjamin Major. Together they established the multi-specialty Arlington Group in North Oakland and were later joined by Drs. James E. Jackson and William A.J. Ross.
Other physicians who have worked at the Arlington Medical Group include Dr. Watson’s son, H. Geoffrey Watson, Dr. Taylor’s son, Scott Taylor, George Queeley, James Richardson, Carl Watson, Paul Wright, Clarence Copeland, James Rorie, Frank Brown, Wade Cartwright, Dale Tipton, M. Byron Charles, Collin Mbanugo, and Greta Clarke.
Their clinic medical building also housed the North Oakland Pharmacy run by Ellerson Weaver, and the North Oakland Pediatric Group with Drs. William Jenkins and Robert Mines.
After the Arlington Center disbanded in the early 1990’s, Dr. James Watson served as the Executive Medical Director of the James A. Watson Wellness Center named in his honor by his son, H. Geoffrey Watson, MD. The accomplishments of James Watson are vast and varied, including academic, social, religious, professional, family and community-oriented achievements and honors.
Dr. Watson was most proud to have been a founding member and to have served as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Church by the Side of the Road. He was also a member of the Omega Phi Psi Fraternity as well as a member of the Alpha Bole Chapter of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.