Dianne Watson Photo featured

Dianne Watson, MAS, former president of the Sunbelt Promotional Products Association and director of Birmingham, Alabama-based multi-line rep firm Turner and Associates (UPIC: BRAD0004), passed away Sunday. She is remembered by colleagues and friends as a dedicated, hard-working and knowledgeable promotional professional who was committed to serving and leading her regional association.

“I have witnessed her tireless efforts and cheerful disposition transform SPPA into a stronger and more organized association,” says Mark Josey, a Birmingham distributor and past president of SPPA.

Watson and her late husband, Brad, led Brad Watson & Associates—later Turner and Associates—together for more than 30 years. They were considered by many to be a dynamic team who built a successful business and forged many lasting friendships. “She had a relentless desire to turn everyone she met into a friend,” says Charlie Cochran, who served with Dianne on the SPPA board.

Watson was a member of SPPA longer than any current members, and volunteered in some capacity every year. She served two terms on the board of directors, including as vice president and delegate to the Regional Association Council, and as president in 2011 and 2012. Her most current role with SPPA was as public service chairperson. The association honored Dianne honored last year with the inaugural SPPA Volunteer of the Year Award, which is now named in her honor.

Cathy Miller, MAS, a past SPPA president, remembers Dianne as a caring friend and colleague who was loved throughout the industry. “We can all only hope to be as loved as she was,” says Miller.

In addition to SPPA service, Watson and her firm acted as dedicated supporters and vocal advocates for all the regional associations of which they were members. She served as president of the Specialty Advertising Association of Georgia (now GAPPP) and was instrumental in their highly successful ESP show. “Dianne was the reason our ESP show reached its huge success and national acclaim in the 1990s,” says Mary Beth Pearson, MAS, a friend and multi-line rep. “‘Lady Di’ was one of my favorite colleagues, and I have been truly honored to call her a friend.”

Watson encouraged countless industry professionals to give back to their industry by becoming involved in their respective regional associations. Loren Richardson with alphabroder, who is current treasurer of SPPA, says, “She recruited me to be on the board and I have seen firsthand her give to the industry and association. She has personally encouraged me as a professional and as a person. I considered her a friend.”

Watson is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Jamie Gilchrist and Bo Turner; stepchildren, Jennifer Watson, Patricia Martin and Stephen Watson; grandchildren, Trey Turner, Elizabeth Turner, Angela and her husband Ronnie Sessamen, Julianne Pierce, Madelyn Martin and Mackenzie Martin; and great grandchild, RJ Sessamen.

A celebration of Dianne’s life will be held at 3 pm Sunday, November 29 at Rideout’s Valley Chapel in Homewood, Alabama. The family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to one of Dianne’s favorite charities, the Lorie Johnson Foundation, P.O. Box 381284, Birmingham, Alabama 35238.