CSUN student and avid sailor Ben Watson dies in car crash

Daily Sundial

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Ben Watson, a CSUN business major who would have been a junior this fall, died Aug. 21, after he lost control of his vehicle and struck a tree in Northern California.

Watson’s family and friends said he was a young man with a passion for life that spanned across many different interests, one being automobiles and their modification.

Watson was returning from the 2005 Concours D’Elegance in Pebble Beach, one of the most famous auto shows on the west coast. The show features prewar and postwar automobiles, along with the latest in concept car designs.

Before enrolling into CSUN, Watson considered majoring in art. He majored in business, but he did not leave his passion for art behind – Watson minored in art.

Watson was also interested in anime and digital animation. From his strong love for anime, he created his own anime website.

“One day (Ben) called and asked, ‘Dad, how do you start a business?'” said Ridge Watson, Ben’s father.

Watson’s technological proficiency led him to pursue the creation and development of computers with high storage capacity for both personal and business use. Computers with such capacity are necessary for the demanding tasks of digital animation that Watson was interested in.

“He was not shy about expressing his opinions. He was very outgoing and had a wide range of interests,” said Dan Curry, a family friend.

One of those interests was sailing, which Watson had pursued since high school. He was voted “Most Valuable Sailor” at Robert Louis Stevenson High School in Pebble Beach, where he captained the school’s sailing team.

In Fall 2003, Watson’s first semester in college, Mercedes Hunt, another student, was spearheading the effort to start a sailing club at CSUN. Watson joined the club his freshman year and was a varsity sailor from the start.

According to Hal Ellison, captain of the CSUN sailing team, Watson was one of the best on the team and was an ideally sized sailor. Size and weight are crucial factors when it comes to success in sailing competition, Ellison said.

Recently, Watson helped in an effort to raise funds to purchase boats and equipment that would allow the team to compete statewide. The newly established team practiced and competed by borrowing boats and equipment from schools that had extras to spare.

Following the fundraising efforts, the sailing club bank account totaled about $2,500. The ultimate goal was to supply the team with three boats, each with a price tag of nearly $5,000.

D’Tim Watson, Ben’s mother, requested that when the first boat is purchased, it is given the name that Watson was known by in the online community: Sorefrog.

Watson is also survived by his grandparents, PheanPajong and Supachai Suetrong, aunt Suttiluk Poolkwan and uncle Nopporn Poolkwan of Thailand; uncle Tom and Hilary Watson of Kansas City; uncle John Watson and Paul Sparks of New York; aunt Linda Watson and his cousins Meg and Michael Watson of Kansas City.

Donations may be sent in Watson’s memory to the CSUN Sailing Team – c/o ASREC Sports Center, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge CA 91330-8260. The team is also interested in finding someone with sailing experience to help coach, and familiarity with Flying Juniors is a plus.

Michael Salseda can be reached at city@sundial.csun.edu.