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Frank Watson: Champion of the city's traders
4:00pm Thursday 19th January 2012 in Local Obituaries
Frank Watson, who defended the rights of Covered Market traders in Oxford for more than 25 years, has died aged 79.
Most people around Oxford will remember him as the owner of the former Watsons jeans shop in the Covered Market.
From the 1950s to the 1990s both town and gown bought their Levi’s at Watsons, usually encountering the ever-smiling Frank in the process.
He sometimes wondered about the fashions people liked, especially the craze for “baggies” in the 1970s, but was of the philosophy that “the customer knows best”.
He was often seen walking around the Covered Market chatting with fellow traders or indulging in his love of sweet things by stopping to eat something juicy from one of the fruit stalls in the days when the market was still dominated by food sellers.
Frank was born in Hackney in London in 1932, but was evacuated to Oxford in 1940, a city he loved from the first, never leaving again.
He lived first in Cowley, and recalled in later life his vivid memories of the stream of bicycles leaving the factory then dedicated to the war effort.
But his favourite memory was of the war’s end, with the celebrations in Carfax and the street parties that followed after years of fear and uncertainty.
Mr Watson spoke fondly of his old school Southfield and also of his life on Cumnor Hill where his parents moved shortly after the war.
After two years’ National Service in the RAF, Mr Watson started work at what was then a small stall owned by his father Arnold selling hosiery in the Covered Market in the 1950s, before expanding the business and eventually owning the shops Bonnie and Flaggs in Broad Street.
He was chairman of the Covered Market Traders’ Association for more than 25 years and believed in the need for cooperation between business and local government.
He took great interest in Oxford and its happenings, which he followed religiously through the Oxford Mail, a paper he insisted on reading daily to his dying day.
Above all, he was a family man, marrying his childhood sweetheart Joy Kosky, his partner in business as well as in life for over 50 years .
He was a dedicated father to sons Alan and Rob and was devastated by Alan’s death from cancer in 2004 aged 46.
Mr Watson was a stalwart of the Oxford Jewish Community, a community he witnessed changing over the years from one largely composed of fellow evacuees from the East End of London, like himself, to the cosmopolitan and international community of today.
He died at home of prostate cancer after a long illness he fought with typical bravery.
Mr Watson is survived by his wife Joy, his son Rob and his grandchildren Amelie and Alex. His funeral will be held today at 1pm at Wolvercote Cemetery.