Hilary Watson, wife of Tom Watson, passes away at age 63
November 29, 2019
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- November 29, 2019
- Hilary Watson passed away Wednesday night after a 2-1/2 year battle with pancreatic cancer. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Hilary Watson, wife of World Golf Hall of Famer Tom Watson, passed away Wednesday night after a 2-1/2 year battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 63.
“Hilary was a very special person – bright, principled, accomplished and she had a gift of uplifting those around her,” former PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said. “And when Hilary set out to do something, she did it successfully. I’ll always remember the stories of her rodeo days, where she won all sorts of medals and ribbons, even after her illness. Most of all, Hilary was a wonderful mate for Tom, we could all see that. My heart goes out to Tom and his family at this difficult time.”
The Watsons were married in 1999.Tom Watson and his wife Hilary share a kiss. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Hilary was first diagnosed in October 2017 after experiencing pain in her abdomen. She eventually underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and then surgery in May 2018 to remove a tumor.
Pancreatic cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. According to pancreatic.org, for all stages combined, 91% of pancreatic cancer patients die within five years of diagnosis.
Yet the illness did not keep Hilary from participating in cutting horse competitions. In 2018, she finished fourth in the National Cutting Horse Association amateur rider of the year finals and followed that with a fifth-place finish in 2019.
“I keep popping up where people are thinking, ‘What are you doing? Why are you here?’” she told the Kansas City Star newspaper in 2018. “I think that’s what kept me going through all of that, having those shows and being enthusiastic and excited about doing something.
“Whether I’m feeling good or not, I was going to still get on that horse. And have some fun doing it. That’s been a godsend for me.”
This summer, after playing in his last Senior Open, Tom Watson said he was looking forward to spending more time with his wife.
“Really happy now doing something a little bit different with my life,” said Watson, who won 39 times (including eight majors) in his PGA TOUR career, and an additional 14 times on PGA TOUR Champions. “Being with my wife, Hilary, who loves to ride the horses, and I love to ride the horses, and we're going to do something different now.”
Former PGA of America president Ted Bishop, who convinced Tom Watson to captain the U.S. team at the 2014 Ryder Cup, paid tribute to Hilary Watson.
“Tom will tell you that Hilary was his hero. … and for many reasons. How these two people dealt with the devastation of the worst that cancer can muster up is truly an inspiration to us all,” Bishop wrote on Facebook.
“Hilary was a beautiful woman who was also one of the fiercest competitors who ever lived. Tom is an eight-time major champion golfer, but more so a man who has always dealt with adversity in amazing ways. It’s a sad day, but Hilary’s fight is over and she leaves us with many beautiful memories.”
Hilary Watson is survived by her husband Tom and her children, Kyle Charles, Kelly Paige and Ross Donald; her stepchildren, Meg Carr and Michael Watson; and two sisters, Alicia Korte and Christine Holton.
According to golfchannel.com, the family will hold a memorial service Dec. 4 in Leawood, Kansas at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to be given to the Children's Bereavement Camp of Crossroads Hospice Kansas or to United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.