Barbara Watson, a former administrative assistant with the Residence Life and Housing Office in Belmont Residence Hall at Colorado State University-Pueblo, died Friday following complications from heart surgery.
CSU-Pueblo President Joseph Garcia said Watson was well known and liked by students who lived in the residence halls. Watson was like a surrogate mom to students, he said, and was always there to help them however she could.
“She (Watson) may have been the most familiar face on campus to many of our students,” Garcia said. “She will be remembered fondly by all of us for years to come.”
Zav Dadabhoy, dean of Student Life at CSU-Pueblo, said Watson was a hard worker with whom students connected.
“She (Watson) passionately cared for students, and many of them considered her to be a mother figure while they were away from home,” Dadabhoy said.
Josh Evans, 18, a freshman majoring in mass communications, said Watson was someone who went out of her way to help people.
“She (Watson) would say, ‘You come see me if you need anything else, you hear me?’ “ Evans said. “She was a nice lady, always positive.”
Drew Legan, 19, a freshman majoring in foreign languages, said Watson was the kind of person who loved being around students.
“She was a nice lady who did her best to help you however she could,” Legan said.
Custodian Rudy Salazar, 63, said he knew Watson for years, and that her death comes as a “terrible shock.” He said Watson always had the time to talk to him whether on or off campus.
“She was always smiling and said she was looking forward to retirement,” Salazar said. “She loved life, and it showed in the way she dealt with people. She treated everyone equally, and I never heard her say a harsh word about anyone. This world needs more people like her.”
Cora Zaletel, CSU-Pueblo’s executive director of External Affairs, first notified the campus of Watson’s death via e-mail.
According to Zaletel, Watson earned a certificate in clerical data entry from Pueblo Community College in 1985 and joined CSU-Pueblo as a trainee that same year. She was promoted to clerical assistant in 1986 and worked in the Financial Aid Office, and in 1987 accepted a position in Continuing Education.
In 1994, Watson’s position changed to administrative assistant II, Zaletel said, and in 1998 she was promoted to an Administrative Assistant III in Residence Life.
Watson retired Dec. 31, 2009.
Funeral service information will be announced, Zaletel said.