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3/5/2019 | 2 MINUTE READ

Richard Watson, Former AESF President and Founder of Benchmark, Passes

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Watson was committed to the growth and development of the electroplating industry, and served the Grand Rapids and Indianapolis branches of the AESF.


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Richard Watson, a former president of the American Electroplaters and Surface Finishers Society (AESF), and founder of the former Benchmark Products, passed away Feb. 10.

In 1970, Watson began his career as an entrepreneur when he acquired Benchmark Inc. of Michigan, and served as its president. In 1982, he founded Benchmark Products in Indianapolis, and served as president and chairman until his retirement in 1996. The company is now known as Asterion.

Watson was committed to the growth and development of the electroplating industry. He served as an officer of both the Grand Rapids and Indianapolis branches of the AESF, was active on the national level, and served the AESF in many positions. In 1989 he received the AESF Leadership Award, and was president of the national AESF in 1992-93.

Watson was born in 1930 in Detroit, and attended the University of Detroit, where he received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He worked for Wyandotte Chemical, Wagner Chemical and the Stan Sax Company before purchasing Benchmark.

Watson and his wife, Marjorie, were together for 64 years, raising two daughters. He was passionate about everything he did, including his hobbies. Watson was an avid golfer and won the Ed Tutwiler tournament at Highland Country Golf and Country Club in Indianapolis, and he made two hole-in-ones at Highland, where he also served for a time as a member of the Highland Board of Directors. He was an amateur photographer and built a darkroom to develop his pictures. He won a blue ribbon in the Fine Arts Division of the Indiana State Fair for one of his photographs, and was recognized by the city of Chicago for another. He taught the neighborhood children about photography, and one of them was so inspired he became a professional photographer. After retirement, he turned his interests to large-scale trains and miniatures, and built a train room above his three-car garage with three or four engines going through tunnels and bridges to the delight of his grandchildren. He was a generous man, giving his time and money to the Sisters of the Poor, Ladywood High School, his local parish, the Boy Scouts and Catholic Charities.

His family says Watson seized life tenaciously. After a series of strokes, he beat the odds by living many years longer than doctors had predicted. He was fascinated by science, and he hoped he would live long enough to have a flying car and take a trip to the moon.

Watson was preceded in death by his wife, who passed in 2018, and a brother, who died of a childhood illness. He is survived by his daughters, Elizabeth Watson Vandivier and Cynthia Watson Beuoy, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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