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Transcript of interview with Dr. John P. Watkins by Claytee D. White, April 29, 2009






World War II Naval officer, outdoors man, viola player John Watkins arrived in Las Vegas in 1955 fresh from his fellowship at UCLA, as the town’s first urologist. In this interview made two years before his 2011 death, Watkins talks about his schooling, his medical career, and medicine and medical practitioners in Las Vegas from the mid-1950s. He recalls how he met his wife, Frances (née) O’Rourke, and the Las Vegas places he, Frances, and their sons John and Brian lived. In particular, he describes their Desert Inn Country Club neighbors and neighborhood, where he and his family lived for fourteen years near the third tee. Watkins talks about his musical education and playing the viola in Antonio Morelli’s Christmas concerts. He also shares his experiences as a mountain climber who climbed Mount Charleston several times before deciding in his seventies to climb the highest peak in each of the fifty states. By the time of this interview, he and his son Brian had conquered forty-three state peaks. According to his obituary, he completed one more climb before he died at ninety years of age, for a total of forty-four highest state peaks. In an Appendix, Watkins shares his detailed wartime journal covering nine “terrible days” on a U.S. Naval ship in an undisclosed battle zone in the Pacific Theatre, 28 December 1944 – 6 January 1945.

Digital ID



John P. Watkins oral history interview, 2009 April 29. OH-02760. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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i AN INTERVIEW WITH DR. JOHN P. WATKINS An Oral History Conducted by Claytee D. White The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©The Boyer Early Las