by Bill Batson
My father, William Prime Batson, passed away early Sunday morning, January 19, 2014. As a home hospice patient, he was comfortable and surrounded by those that loved him. He was 92.
Every morning during his 90th year, I created a watercolor portrait of my father. Physically, he was robust almost until the very end, yet cognitively, he progressively declined. He had forgotten my name, and our relationship, but the bond between us remained strong. Despite his dementia, every morning for one year, he seemed to enjoy our 6am portrait painting sessions.
You could interpret his down cast expression in nearly all of my paintings in many ways, but in fact, he fixed his gaze on the breakfast I was serving: hot cereal with apples and prunes, toast and juice. And he’s not frowning…he’s chewing.
Here is a selection of my favorite pieces from the 366-day tribute interposed with his obituary. If you click on the image, you can see the rest of the paintings from that month. Eventually, I would like to find a space to exhibit the paintings side-by-side or publish them as a book to encourage the discussion and consideration of elder care issues and to support the work of the United Hospice of Rockland.
“Prime” as his friends and family called him, was born in Hartford, Connecticut on October 22, 1921.
He was raised in Nyack on Jackson Avenue by his mother Frances Lillian Avery Batson, with his sisters, Frances Adeline Batson and Ruth Batson Bancroft.
He graduated from Nyack High School in 1940 where he lettered in track. He once tried out for the Harlem Globetrotters when they were a professional basketball team.
His 35 year career at Curtiss-Wright Corporation, an engine manufacturer in Woodbridge, New Jersey, was interrupted by three years of military service. During World War II, he fought in France, Italy, and Germany.
After the war, Prime returned to Curtiss-Wright, where he was an active member of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW).
From 1953 until 1958, Prime and his sister Adeline owned and operated a restaurant in Paterson, New Jersey. Adeline later served as Deputy Village Clerk for Nyack.
While in Paterson he met his future bride, Daisy Pines. Prime and Daisy raised their son, William Reuben Batson in Teaneck, New Jersey.
From 1976 until 1989, Prime worked as a water treatment plant operator for the Nyack Water Company.
In his retirement, he enjoyed gardening, caring for his dogs and reading the New York Times cover-to-cover everyday.
Prime is survived by his son, William Reuben Batson of Nyack; his niece, Sylvia Peterson of Nyack; his nephew, Raymond Bancroft of Miami, Florida, and his great granddaughter, Janae Peterson of Nyack.
Because of the United Hospice of Rockland, he was comfortable till the end and we as a family received the compassionate attention of competent professionals.
We encourage everyone to learn more about end-of-life issues and support organizations like United Hospice of Rockland.
I want to acknowledge my cousin, Sylvia Peterson for her dedication to her uncle Prime for the last 15 years.
On behalf of my family, I want to express how grateful we are to all of our friends and neighbors who have sent heart felt condolences and wholesome meals during our bereavement. Special thanks to the professional and thoughtful staff at Hannemann’s Funeral Home.
- Watercolor portrait in progress: Janae Peterson
- Soldier at graveside at Oak Hill Cemetery: Bill Batson