Alfred Laverne 1904 - 1980 and Elsie Vere Long Watt 1904 - 1995
Alfred Laverne and Elsie Vere Long Watt were educators in both secondary schools and colleges in the Seventh-day Adventist church, serving in the U.S. and South Africa. He was a science teacher and administrator and she, although by training a nurse, was an accomplished musician who taught marimba and piano and chaired music programs in two academies.
Alfred was born in College View, Nebraska, on August 21, 1904, the oldest of five children of John Clyde and Mabel Philina Hilliard Watt. He attended Union College, where he met Elsie Vere Long, a student in the nursing program, and they married on June 3, 1929, following his graduation from Union College. They were hired that summer to work at Plainview Academy in South Dakota, she to serve as school nurse and he as the science and printing teacher.
Elsie had been born in Arkansas, on May 13, 1904, the older of two daughters of Charles H. and Lavinia Null Long. Although nothing is known of her musical training, the first record of her involvement in music is of her overseeing music at PA.
By the time they left the academy twelve years later, he had become principal and she had developed what was regarded as an active and successful music department that included both choir and orchestra. In April 1932, they had their only child, a son, Donald Laverne. In 1941 they accepted similar positions at Indiana Academy, where they worked for the next three years. In that short time, the Lake Union Herald noted that the IA music department had "materially benefited because of her efficient leadership."
In 1944 the Watts traveled to South Africa to teach at Helderberg College, he to head the science and mathematics department and she to assist in the music area. By this time, she had acquired a reputation as a skilled marimba player as well as pianist. Even though the marimba has its roots in the continent of Africa, it was rarely played in its modern and primitive forms in South Africa.
In 1950 the HC A Cappella choir took an extended tour throughout South Africa. Related smaller groups from within the choir sang, and Elsie performed hymns on the marimba as features within a program that created a sensation wherever it was presented. Audiences were impressed with the quality of the singing and enchanted by the sounds of the modern marimba. Elsie's performances on that tour and elsewhere possibly became a factor in popularizing the instrument in that country.
They returned to the U.S. in 1952 so that Alfred could complete a master's degree, living in Lincoln, Nebraska. Following completion of his master's degree in physics at the University of Nebraska in 1954, they returned to South Africa, where they taught for another five years, stopping on their return for a short stay in London.
Upon their return to the U.S. in January 1960, Alfred taught briefly as a temporary teacher in science and mathematics at UC before accepting a permanent position that autumn at Southern Missionary College, now Southern Adventist University. They would continue to reside in Collegedale, Tennessee, until Alfred retired. Following his death in March 1980, at age 75, Elsie would eventually move to Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where she died in 1995, at age 91. She is buried in the Collegedale Memorial Park next to her husband.
Sources: 1910, 1920 U. S. Federal Census records, Ancestry.com; A. Watt, Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014, Ancestry.com; "Long-Watt," Central Union Outlook, July 2, 1929, 8; Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006, Ancestry.com; 1910-1930 U.S. Federal Census records, Ancestry.com; "Plainview Academy Music Recital," Central Union Reaper, March 30, 1937, 10; A. L. Watt, "Elder Sorenson to Speak," "Plainview Opens," Northern Union Outlook, September 19, 1939, 3, 4; Donald Laverne Watt, Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, Ancestry.com; H. K. Halladay, "Indiana Academy," Lake Union Herald, May 23, 1944, 5; Milton Robison, "Arrival of New Recruits," Southern African Division Outlook, July 23, 1945, 4; SMC News, "New staff Members," Southern Tidings, June 22, 1960, 16,17; P. H. Coetzee, "South Africa to Hear Our Helderberg A Cappella Choir," Southern African Division Outlook, July 15, 1950, 2; Pietre Coetzee, "Share Your Faith in South Africa," The Youth's Instructor, March 6, 1951, 15, 16, 19, 21; "News Flash," Northern Light, April, 1954, 8; A. Watt, Social Security Death Index; North Carolina, Death Indexes, 1908-2004, Ancestry.com.