Ralph Armstead Watkins Jr., a former member of the Arizona Board of Regents, died in his Glendale, Ariz., home Aug. 2, 2009. He was 83.

Born in Phoenix on July 29, 1926, Mr. Watkins was named most distinguished alumni of the Roswell, N.M., Military Institute. He graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in economics and political science.

Mr. Watkins served as a Marine in the Korean War and World War II. He later became a civilian aide to the Secretary of Army for the state of Arizona. He was past chairman of the Arizona Department of Transportation, and Sen. Barry Goldwater appointed him chairman of the Navajo/Hopi Relocation Commission. Mr. Watkins served on many additional boards and committees and had the opportunity to meet every president of the United States since Dwight Eisenhower.

He was an avid supporter of education, and served as a member of the Arizona Board of Regents from 1987-88.

Mr. Watkins is survived by his wife of 57 years, Patricia, and two children: Cynthia Haggard (Dale Haggard, deceased) and Ralph Watkins, III (Michele Watkins), six grandchildren (Bradley, Wyatt, Ralph IV, Kristina, Brandon and Grant) and four great-grandchildren.

Services were held earlier this week at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Glendale. Interment was at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: Ralph A. Watkins Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 671, Peoria, AZ 85380.