“Of course she has worked decades at her trade and truly deserves retirement; and I hope she enters into this retirement knowing she made a difference here – at the paper and in the community,” Rhodes added. “Her customers were dear to her and she served them well. All the best, MJ!”
In the early 2000s, the economy was good and Watson said she recalls having the most fun of her career, working with the likes of Anna Kertok, Vicky Shelton and Gina McClure.
“We just had a ball. The economy was good and we were … doing real well,” she said.
“I've had some good times and some really hard times, but lots of fun,” she added.
At her retirement party in late January, Kertok gave Watson a handmade award, which included indelible memories of what she learned from her mentor. These included what not to wear and “how to love people who weren't so loveable,” Watson said.
Mary Gray, a relatively new ad rep at the Index, made Watson a cake closely resembling a newspaper, with headlines from papers where Watson worked. In addition to the Index, she sold ads for the Hood County News, the Graham Leader, the Painted Post Crossroads Magazine and Polk County Publishing.
The icing headlines read: “Mary Jo Watson retires after 34 years in the newspaper business,” “Loyal customers say 'farewell' at retirement party,” “Inside exclusive interviews with her animals,” “Future plans include enjoying life,” and “Future plans include grandkids and gardening.”
Watson was well-known in the office for her vegetable garden that produced an abundance of zucchini, squash and tomatoes. When not at work, she is often seen with her granddaughter, Lara Jones, who Watson helped get started with raising show animals; and she enjoys watching the Perrin 14-year-old play softball. Watson is also known as someone who has rescued many dogs, strays found along Palo Pinto and Jack County roadways.