Coach Bill Waters was on born May 10, 1926, to B Manse and Thelma Waters in Ringgold. He left this earth to be reunited with his family and his Savior on Nov. 21, 2011. He was 85 years old.
Waters moved to south Oklahoma City during World War II when his family relocated from Terrel, Okla. He attended Capitol Hill High School where he was a four-sport standout. Along with baseball, Waters was All-State in basketball and football and won State in the shot-put twice. Eleven days after high school graduation, he joined the Army Air Corps and served until 1946.
As an athlete, Waters received offers from 87 different colleges and universities but chose to attend the University of Oklahoma because it was close to home and his parents would be able to watch him play ball. He entered OU on a split athletic scholarship in basketball and baseball. During the 1946-47 basketball season, Waters was privileged to play on the Sooners team that went to the NCAA basketball championship game in Madison Square Garden. The next season as a sophomore, he was the second leading scorer for the Sooners. He also pitched three seasons for the Crimson and Cream baseball team, which finished second in the Big Seven Conference in 1950. Waters was drafted by several professional basketball, baseball and football teams after graduating from college but traveling to play and leaving his family was not what he wanted to do.
With a degree in education, Waters came to East Texas for a coaching job interview in the summer of 1950 and he never left. He started his career by coaching high school basketball for the Gladewater Bears. During 28 years of coaching basketball, Waters' teams were district champs seven times, regional champs and state finalist in 1952, and regional champs and third place in the state basketball tourney in 1963. In 1966, he became assistant athletic director and then full-time director until he retired in 1983. During his years of teaching and coaching, Waters impacted numerous lives in positive ways. His philosophy on coaching: "Somewhere as a young coach, you have to learn that you're the same man whether you win or lose. Try to teach kids it's not important to win but it is terribly important to WANT to win, to try to win. If you don't TRY to excel then that is failure."
Coach Waters was a passionate teacher of world history for 32 years. He also taught one of the first advance classes that Gladewater High School offered for students. His life experiences from growing up in the Depression and serving in the military added a personal perspective to all that he taught, and earned him Teacher of the Year at Gladewater during his career. If you were a student in his class, you learned. Even with an occasional side story about 'coon hunting thrown into the history lesson, you learned about history and about life.
As a 60-year member of the First United Methodist Church in Gladewater, Waters served on many committees and church boards. He taught high school and college Sunday school classes and served as church historian.
Coach Waters is preceded in death by his parents, his wife of 60 years, Jerry, and one grandson, Billy Jordan. Survivors include daughters, Nona Waters Jordan of Campbell, Debra Waters of Gladewater; daughter and son-in-law, Nancy and Jay Edwards of Gladewater; and brother-in-law and his wife, Ralph and Sally Hunter. He had eight loving grandchildren and spouses: Kevin and Amy Jordan Helm, Bernhard and Cristy Jordan Pucher, Dusty and Kara Jordan, Chris and Emily Jordan Rhett, Geoffrey Jordan, Marc and Ginny Jordan Smith, Colt and Kristi Edwards, Sam Edwards and fiancée Mckenzie Bright; and 10 great-grandchildren. He also leaves behind hundreds of former students and players whom he loved and reminisced about often.
Visitation will be Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Croley Funeral Home in Gladewater.
A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 25, 2011, at Gladewater First United Methodist Church. Interment will be Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011, in Ringgold Cemetery, Ringgold.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church.
To view online, go to www.croleyfhgwater.net.
Published in Tyler Morning Telegraph on Nov. 24, 2011