Local News

Man dies in motorcycle crash hours before ride for slain uncle

Posted October 22, 2012 7:26 p.m. EDT
Updated October 23, 2012 3:50 p.m. EDT

— The family of a retired Durham firefighter who was killed in his home in July is dealing with another tragedy.

Donald Kemp Watson, 74, was found dead on July 9 in what authorities have said is a homicide. The crime remains unsolved.

Watson's nephew, Rodney Watson, 41, of Hillsborough, was killed this weekend in a crash, hours before a fundraiser that he had planned in his uncle's honor.

Police said he was riding a motorcycle on N.C. Highway 55 in Durham shortly after midnight Sunday when he rear-ended a Jeep.

"It's more than I thought we could ever handle," Rodney Watson's sister, Melissa Stigall, said Monday, of her brother and uncle's deaths.

Family members say Rodney Watson was a big man with a big personality and a big heart.

"He was a fun-loving, full-of-life kind of guy," Stigall said.

His uncle, Wayne Watson, said his nephew had been moved to do something to honor his slain uncle and had arranged a motorcycle ride in his memory for Sunday.

"Donnie was sort of his second dad," Wayne Watson said. "He looked to Donnie as a father."

The memorial ride in Donnie Watson's honor still took place Sunday. Eighty riders participated, and they even changed the route so that they could pay tribute to Rodney Watson at the spot where he lost his life.

Rodney Watson's funeral will be Friday at 2 p.m. at Hudson Funeral Home, 211 S. Miami Blvd., Durham. The family will receive visitors at the funeral home from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday.