Column Name


Craig Watjen 1936-2010
Alumnus and Former Trustee

Craig Watjen, a Juilliard graduate and former board member, Microsoft Corporation executive, and philanthropist, died of cancer on August 13. He was 74 and a resident of Bellevue, Wash. 


A Juilliard trustee from 2005 to 2008, Watjen shared his success with the arts world, never forgetting his beginnings as a musician. He was a proponent of the Campaign for Juilliard (predecessor to the Juilliard Second Century Fund), serving as a representative for projects outside of New York City, and was also on the boards of the Seattle Symphony, the Seattle Opera Foundation, and the Village Theater in Issaquah, Wash. A contribution from Watjen and his wife, Joan, enabled the addition of the Watjen Concert Organ to Seattle’s Benaroya Hall.

Watjen was born on July 22, 1936, in Pawtucket, R.I., and attended St. George’s High School in Newport, R.I., where he performed duets with the school’s resident organist. After graduating from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, Watjen studied clarinet with Bernard Portnoy at Juilliard, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1961 and going on to earn a master’s degree at the New England Conservatory. As a professional musician, Watjen joined the North Carolina Symphony and was a substitute for the Boston Pops touring orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. However, his wide-ranging interests soon led him in a new direction.

In 1973, Watjen earned an M.B.A. from Stanford University Graduate Business School. He began work at General Recorded Tape, a Silicon Valley corporation owning several music labels and in possession of a client list that included Paul Allen and Bill Gates. When Microsoft’s headquarters moved from Albuquerque to Bellevue, Watjen was asked to join the corporation. He opened the accounting department in 1981 and later became the assistant head of the Microsoft treasury team, retiring in 1990.

Watjen’s philanthropic activities also extended to the realm of science. He donated $50 million to help found the cancer research institute Light Sciences Oncology in Bellevue, after undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.

In his later years, Watjen revived a boyhood passion for baseball. He was a minority investor in the Seattle Mariners and also attended the team’s baseball fantasy camps. 

Watjen is survived by his wife, Joan, whom he met after receiving his M.B.A., his sister-in-law, Sandra Watjen of Rhode Island, and three nieces.

Recent Issues