Written by Pat Eagleson Friday, 06 November 2009 00:00
Cecil Kenneth Watkins passed away on Oct. 10, 2009 due to complications from pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife of 46 years Valerie Morgan Watkins; daughters, Kara Watkins Tillman and Keri Watkins; sisters, Caroline Townes and Ruth Ross; sisters-in-law, Dorothy Watkins, Shirley Mack and Ruby Rolle; brothers-in-law, John Mack, Anthony Rolle and John Townes; son-in-law Emmanuel Tillman; granddaughters, Amadia Tillman and Elysia Tillman; and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews and friends who will miss him greatly. He was preceded in death by his brother LeRoy Watkins Sr.; sister Henrietta “Mazie” Smith; and nephew Michael Velazquez.
Cecil was the president and CEO of the National Pro-Am City Leagues Association, Inc., a national organization that develops both players and referees for the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Governor and Boys Basketball chairman of the New York Metropolitan Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and an active board member for several organizations. During his 18 years with the NBA, he served as director of Community and Special Programs and as an assistant supervisor of officials. He was also a co-founder and former executive director of ELMCOR Youth & Adult Activities, Inc., a community service organization serving East Elmhurst, Corona and Jamaica.
He was respected nationwide for his knowledge and leadership in sports and community recreation. His efforts were largely responsible for providing countless inner city youth with positive outlets to express themselves and grow through their participation in sports. In recent years, Cecil was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Adelphi University and selected as a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Mannie Jackson-Basketball’s Human Spirit Award. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame for NYS Basketball, NYC Basketball, ELMCOR and Adelphi University.
Most importantly, he made a difference in the lives of so many people. Cecil was a gentle giant who transformed communities with his uncanny genius and touched the hearts of those who knew him with his candor, his humor and his generosity.
A memorial service was held on Nov. 1 in Adelphi University’s Center for Recreation & Sports. Memorial contributions may be made to the Cecil K. and LeRoy J. Watkins National ProAm Foundation, 7001 Brush Hollow Road, Suite 214, Westbury, NY 11590.