Thomas L. Watson was born in East St. Louis, Illinois. When he was ten years old, his family moved to Oakland, California where his father was superintendent of Oakland Meat and Packing Company, which was part of Swift and Company.
He graduated from Piedmont High School and attended Whites Prep School until 1932 when he began working for Swift and Company in South San Francisco as foreman of the Smoked Meats Department. He met and married Myrtle Lucille, known as "Dude" and they had two sons.
From 1946 to 1952 Thomas was employed by Mills Livestock Company in Sacramento as manager of their sheep operations. He owned and operated Watson Livestock and was a partner, with Al Kuhn, in the Whitney Ranch near Lincoln beginning in 1952. These were sheep and cattle operations utilizing irrigated pasture, feedlot, and summering in Squaw Valley and the Tahoe National Forest.
Thomas was president of the Marysville District Woolgrowers from 1955 to 1957 and a member of the American Sheep Producers Council from 1957 to 1963. He was active in both the California and National Woolgrowers Associations, advocating improved practices and efficient marketing of lambs with a good return to all segments of the livestock and meat industries.
He died in Santa Cruz just before his fifty-second birthday.