On September 22, 1936, in the quiet town of Bennettsville, South Carolina, Claudius Elmer “Bud” Watts III came into the world, marking the beginning of a journey that would leave an indelible mark on the lives of many. On October 1, 2023, at the age of 87, Claudius E. Watts III breathed his last, leaving behind a legacy defined by unwavering service, leadership, and a commitment to excellence.
During his remarkable life, Claudius E. Watts III achieved great distinction as a United States Air Force lieutenant general. His career was characterized by dedication and valor, exemplified by the 7,000 flight hours he logged as a Command Pilot during his time in the Air Force.
Notably, Watts III’s military service extended to 276 missions in Vietnam, where he exhibited extraordinary bravery and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross three times, among numerous other gallantry and combat awards. His remarkable dedication to duty culminated in receiving the nation’s highest non-combat award, the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, a testament to his unwavering commitment to the United States and its citizens.
In 1989, after his illustrious military career, Claudius E. Watts III assumed the role of the 17th president of The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina. Serving for seven years until his retirement in 1996, he left an indelible mark on the institution he cherished. The Citadel honored his contributions by naming Watts Barracks in his honor, a fitting tribute to a man whose dedication to education, leadership, and service remained unwavering throughout his life.
While Claudius E. Watts III’s professional achievements are well-documented, his personal life remained a private matter. There is no public information available regarding his marital status, and the question of whether he had children remains unanswered.
As the community mourns the passing of this distinguished figure, the cause of his death remains undisclosed, preserving the privacy that he held dear throughout his life. In addition to his many accomplishments, Claudius E. Watts III left behind a financial legacy, with an estimated net worth ranging from $1 to $5 million at the time of his passing.
Importantly, there is no record of Claudius E. Watts III facing any illness during his lifetime, a testament to his resilience and dedication to his many roles.
While Claudius E. Watts III’s physical presence may be absent, his enduring legacy of service, leadership, and commitment to excellence will continue to inspire generations to come. As we celebrate his life and remember his contributions, we also respect the privacy that he maintained in his personal affairs, including details about his family.