Sidonie was born on July 17, 1928, in Arles, France, to her parents, Antoine Louis and Severine Pancioni Gauzargues. Together with her five siblings, she survived the Nazi occupation of France, attending local primary and secondary parochial schools, and later graduated from business college.
Upon completing her education, Donie served twelve years in the Signal Corps of the French Army, rising to the rank of Sergeant Major and completing tours of duty in Vietnam and Algeria before being stationed in Paris. There, she became an acrobatic pilot after obtaining her private license by completing a solo flight across France in an open cockpit biplane. She also completed five parachute jumps.
During this time, Donie also met her future husband, Bill Watson, of Lola, Kentucky, who was serving with the Military Police in the U.S. Army providing security for SHAPE Headquarters. Together, they enjoyed a whirlwind courtship, savoring the wonderful sights and culture of Versailles and Paris. Throughout their marriage, Donie loved to remind Bill she outranked him.
The couple were married by the mayor of Versailles on July 27, 1957, and soon relocated to Kentucky, where Donie gave birth to their daughter, Dr. Carolyn Sue Watson, on April 8, 1960. Three years later, on April 22, 1963, Donie became a naturalized U.S. citizen, with Judge Edward Johnstone administering her oath in the U.S. District Court at Paducah. A proud and fierce American patriot, she continued to celebrate her French heritage. In fact, she became well-known for her French cooking and baking, and was pleased when her delicious culinary creations were featured in several regional magazine articles.
Donie focused on being a homemaker and stay-at-home mother while Bill pursued his 41-year career with WPSD Local 6 and the Paxton Media Group, where he began as Director of the Film Department before serving many years as the corporate pilot. Donie attended Highland Baptist Church in Paducah with her family, where she was a member and was baptized on June 21, 2007. In years past, she had volunteered as a Vacation Bible School teacher, a Livingston County poll worker, and a “pink lady” with the Lourdes Hospital Auxiliary. At the time of her death, she continued to serve her community as a Lieutenant in the local Civil Air Patrol and an active member of the Paducah Lions Club. In recognition of her community service and leadership, she was named a Duchess of Paducah and a Kentucky Colonel.
Over the years, Donie was able to return to France on several occasions with Bill and Carolyn to visit her parents and siblings. At home, In addition to flying and driving about the countryside with her husband, she enjoyed fishing and caring for wildlife. Earlier this year, Donie and Bill celebrated 63 years of marriage, and their inspiring journey together was featured in a Valentine’s Day story by Brianna Clark which aired on WPSD Local 6.
Donie is survived by her husband and daughter; her son-in-law, Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Shea Nickell; her sisters, Eliane Errero (Gabi) and Marie Paule Gauzargues of Le Pontet, France; a sister-in-law, Denise Gauzargues of Mas Thibert, France; a brother-in-law, Jerry Watson (Myra) of Marion, Kentucky; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; a brother, Lucien Gauzargues; two sisters, Jeanine Chavagnas (Joseph) and Marise Desmaries (Jeano); and a sister-in-law, Sandra Sills (Kenneth).
Friends may visit from 11:00 am until the funeral hour Friday, December 11, 2020, in the chapel of Boyd Funeral Directors and Cremation Services in Salem, Kentucky. The Funeral Service will begin at 1:00 pm, with Dr. Richard Beck officiating. Burial will follow in Salem Cemetery.
The family requests if you are sick or under quarantine, please do not attend. Masks and social distancing will be strictly enforced.
Condolences may also be left online at boydfunerldirectors.com.
To send flowers to Sidonie's family, please visit our floral store.