Glenn R. Watson, prominent municipal attorney

Glenn R. Watson, a lawyer who was instrumental in the formation of the cities of Rancho Palos Verdes, Cerritos, Industry, Carson, and who served as city attorney for many cities throughout Southern California for 50 years, died Dec. 26. He was 93.

His law firm, Richards, Watson & Gershon, was formed in 1954 with the late state Sens. Richard Richards and Robert G. Beverly, and became known as a leading municipal law firm in California.

Watson's first city incorporation was the city of Dairy Valley, whose boosters claimed the city had "3,500 people, 35,000 cows." The 1956 incorporation was opposed by the city of Long Beach and Watson successfully defended litigation seeking to derail formation of the new city, which was later named Cerritos.

Watson guided residents in incorporating the new city of Rancho Palos Verdes in 1973. Owners of large tracts of land sued to prevent the incorporation, claiming they had the right to veto the formation of the new city; Watson and his colleague, James K. Herbert, obtained a California Supreme Court ruling that the landowner-veto provision was unconstitutional.

Los Angeles County zoning decisions in the 1960s led to a concentration of dumps, auto wrecking yards, and other industrial uses in an unincorporated area adjacent to Long Beach. Residents and business owners asked Watson to help them form a new city that could control its own land uses and future. The city of Carson was incorporated in 1968. Watson served as its city attorney for 30 years.

Watson was instrumental in the incorporation of the City of Industry in 1957 and was the first city attorney for the City of Commerce. Over the years he also served as city attorney for the cities of South El Monte, Seal Beach, Gardena, Artesia, Cudahy, Rosemead and others.

Watson was born in Ada, Okla., in 1917. He attended the University of Oklahoma Law School, graduating in 1939. After serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he settled in Los Angeles and opened his law office in 1946. In 2000, he endowed the Glenn R. Watson Centennial Chair in Law at the University of Oklahoma Law School.

He is survived by his daughter, Carol W. Lynch and granddaughters Katie and Amy, all of La Cañada Flintridge; by a sister, Lois, of Oklahoma, and by a host of nieces and nephews throughout the country.

A memorial service is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7 at La Cañada Presbyterian Church, 626 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada, with a reception following.

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