FORT WORTH, TEXAS – W.R. “Bob” Watt, Jr., president emeritus of the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, passed away peacefully at his Fort Worth home yesterday evening, November 9, 2022. Watt devoted much of his life to the Stock Show serving in a variety of capacities over a span of 67 years. He served as president and general manager from 1978 through 2010 when we assumed the title of president emeritus.
“Bob leaves a legacy at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo that will likely be unmatched,” said Stock Show President and General Manager Bradford S. Barnes. “His modest and humble demeanor obscured the tremendous impact he had on not just the Stock Show but the growth of the Will Rogers Memorial Center and the crucial groundwork that brought about Dickies Arena. Fort Worth, Texas has lost a great advocate and friend.”
Watt’s career path with the “Stock Show” took him and the organization he dearly loved on a projection to exciting heights and enduring accomplishments. He began part-time work between college semesters in 1955 and was elected to the organization’s board of directors in 1958, remaining on the governing body for 64 years. Bob served in various Stock Show superintendent roles before being named assistant to the livestock show and horse show managers in 1963. He ascended to the position of President and General Manager, succeeding his father in the role, in 1978 after having served as Executive Assistant, Assistant General Manager, General Manager and Board Secretary. He was named President Emeritus upon his retirement in 2010.
Watt played a critical role in an era of growth and improvements at the Stock Show’s home – the Will Rogers Memorial Center – that was pivotal in Fort Worth’s emergence as the nation’s premier location for livestock and equestrian competitions. He was involved with officials with the City of Fort Worth in achieving a variety of significant improvements at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. His consensus building skills played a key role in creating a public / private funding example for public events facilities that is admired across the nation.
Watt oversaw a transitionary and exciting period of growth for the Stock Show. During his tenure as president and general manager, the Show grew from 10 to 12 then 17 and 23 days. Before his retirement, crowds of more than one million consistently attended the Stock Show annually easily making the Show the city’s largest public event. Participation in livestock and horse shows by exhibitors from around the nation grew steadily now topping 30,000 entries annually.