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Doc Watson with his wife, Rosa Lee Watson, who died Thursday at age 81. Photo courtesy of Brian Barker Photography.

Originally published: 2012-11-23 10:45:09
Last modified: 2012-11-23 14:05:42

Doc Watson's wife, Rosa Lee, dies at 81

Rosa Lee Carlton Watson died Thursday at age 81, six months after the passing of her husband, legendary musician Arthel "Doc" Watson.

Born on Feb. 5, 1931 to parents Gaither and Lucy Robbins Carlton, Watson was a longtime resident of Deep Gap and died at Glenbridge Health and Rehabilitation Center in Boone.

Doc and Rosa Lee Watson married in 1947, beginning a romantic and artistic partnership that would span almost 66 years until his death May 29.

"She saw what little good there was in me, and there was little," Watson said in an AP interview in 2000. "I'm awful glad she cared about me, and I'm awful glad she married me."

The couple performed together on occasion and co-wrote “Your Long Journey,” which was featured on the Grammy Award-winning album “Raising Sand” by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

The Watsons had two children: Nancy Ellen Watson, who still lives in Deep Gap, and Eddy Merle Watson, who died in 1985 at age 36. Rosa Lee Watson is credited with teaching Merle his first guitar chords.

In addition to her daughter, Watson is survived by three sisters and one brother. She also leaves behind two grandchildren, one great-grandson and two great great grand-children.

Hampton Funeral Service is assisting the Watson family, and a full obituary and online guest book is available at

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.