Cambridge-The Reverend Dr. William “Bill” Harold Waters of Cambridge, NY passed away peacefully at his home on Saturday, April 18, 2020. He was the son of the Rev. Barber L. Waters and Rachel E. Saxton. Born in Watertown, NY on September 13, 1927, Bill had three brothers; the Rev. Barber L. Waters of the United Methodist Conference, Stanley O. Waters, a Boy Scout executive, and the Rev. Raoul Waters of the Troy Methodist Conference.
Bill graduated from Watertown High School in 1947 and from St. Lawrence University with an A.B. degree. He then attended the St. Lawrence Universalist-Unitarian Seminary, graduating with a Doctor of Divinity degree. He took additional studies at the Boston School of Theology, and the Christ Church College in Canterbury, England. He received his Elder’s Orders in 1953.
Bill married Margaret “Peg” Ann Duffany – the girl next door. She was a graduate of the Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY with an R.N. degree. She was active in church work on the Conference, District, and local levels. Peg was an outstanding soloist in church choirs. “Peg o’ my heart”, as Bill lovingly called her, passed away on January 2, 1999.
Out of Bill and Peg’s union were born four children; Elizabeth Carol Waters, David Alan Waters, Richard Norman Waters, and Julie Lynn (Waters) McGinty.
For Bill, God is the ultimate source of life, love, and being, and is only worshipped by living fully, loving fully, and having the courage to be. As a result, Bill experienced an exciting and meaningful life. He worked tirelessly for housing for the poor, supported the Civil Rights movement by marching for Selma in 1965, and was one of very few clergy in Queens, NY to stand behind the New York City School Board to integrate the schools. He led the students at Vassar College against the Vietnam War, and was against the war in Iraq. Bill supported giving women an equal place in ministry with men, and fought for decent salaries and benefits for the clergy. He felt that all people should be welcomed and accepted by the church, and harbored no prejudice or malice in his heart for anyone based upon one’s race, creed, ethnicity, nationality, culture, or sexual orientation.
Among his many accomplishments, Bill served the New York Conference by raising the funds that were used to build the new Woodbury United Methodist Church on Long Island. He was involved in merging churches on three separate occasions, served the Conference as the District Mission Secretary, was a Supervising Pastor, and was a member of the Board of Ordained Ministries. He was also the Stewardship Chairperson for the Board of Discipleship, was promoted to Chairperson of the entire Board of Discipleship, and conducted District Mission and Education workshops on the district level.
Bill’s contributions to his community included being the Hudson River Salvation Army Secretary for nine years. His duties included disbursing funds to unwed mothers, the hungry, the cold, and for other needy causes.
Bill was the Protestant Chaplain of the Castle Point Veterans Administration Hospital for six years, and the Interim Chaplain of the Hudson River State Hospital in Poughkeepsie for one year. He was also the chaplain of the police and fire departments in several of the communities he had served.
In April 1978, Bill was surprised when he was given a “Bill Waters Day” celebration by the community of Wappingers Falls, NY. Representatives from Federal, State, County, and local governments, as well as clergy from all major church denominations, honored Bill with a church service, a parade through the center of town, and a banquet. The event was televised. Plaques of appreciation were presented to Bill by the local police and fire departments, the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, Marine Midland Bank, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Interfaith Council, and the Salvation Army. A Roman Catholic Bishop and several Knights of Columbus escorted Bill during the parade and to the banquet.
Bill fancied himself as an artist, and what a wonderful and talented artist he was. He worked with any type of medium that was available – including window shades upon which he painted several works of art. His oil painting of Jesus Christ was displayed in the sanctuary of the Furman Street United Methodist Church in Syracuse, NY. Bill was also a gifted calligrapher. He had designed and produced certificates of ordination for five United Methodist Conferences. He had done this for fifteen years – until the computer took over.
Bill also enjoyed writing. He wrote the text, “Two-Thousand Years of Methodism in the Hudson East”, which is a history of early Methodism in America. This work was followed by drawings and histories of the sixty-four churches in the Hudson East District.
Bill and Peg traveled extensively for Educational Opportunities, twice leading groups through Israel. He created slide presentations of those trips, and showed them in churches and at nursing homes.
Bill is survived by his four children: Elizabeth C. Waters of Arlington, VT, David A. (Donna) Waters of St. Johnsville, NY, Richard N. (Suzanne) Waters of Lagrangeville, NY, and Julie L. (Frank) McGinty of Hoosick, NY, including ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother, the Reverend Dr. Raoul “Ray” Waters of Cambridge, NY.
Bill’s ashes will be buried next to those of his beloved wife, Peg, in the Stump Church Cemetery in North Cambridge, NY. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to your local food bank. Per his wishes, Bill would like everyone to know that they are welcome to sit on the beautiful Vermont granite bench that marks the site of his and Peg’s resting place.
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