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John B. Waters, Jr.
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Obituary for John B. Waters, Jr.

John B. Waters Jr., age 88 of Sevierville died Saturday, April 14, 2018.
A devoted Christian, husband, father and grandfather, Mr. Waters was a member of First Baptist Church, Sevierville for over 77 years. John was the ultimate storyteller, always finding a receptive audience as he recalled tales of his many experiences. He was an equally good listener and encourager. Known by his grandchildren as “Poppa,” he was tremendously proud of his Sevier County heritage, his professional service as an attorney, his military service to his country and his extended family.
John was born July 15, 1929, on Joy Street in Sevierville, half a block from the Sevier County Courthouse. In recent years, he maintained a family business office in the room in which he was born at 107 Joy Street. He became interested in politics while at The University of Tennessee, serving as campaign manager for his friend Howard Baker, who was running for student body president. He ran for United States Congress in 1957 and for the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1982. Although both campaigns were unsuccessful, he was an important factor and a great influence in Republican politics at the local, state and national level throughout his life.
After graduating from UT in 1952, John reported to the U.S. Navy to begin a three year tour of duty as a commissioned officer. He served on the USS Conway as a gunnery officer during the Korean War. Following his tour, he returned to Sevierville, where he worked with his father, J. B. Waters, Sr, and brother, David Waters, in the real estate and auction business. He later returned to the University, graduating from UT Law School in 1961, and practiced law in Sevierville with Hailey, Waters, Sykes & Sharp for the next 22 years.

On April 8, 1953, John married his Sevier County sweetheart, Patsy Temple. John and Patsy enjoyed 53 years together, before Patsy’s death in 2006.
From 1969-1971, John served as federal co-chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission in Washington, DC, under President Richard Nixon’s nomination. John also served as President of the Tennessee Bar Association in 1983. He was appointed by President Reagan as a Director for the Tennessee Valley Authority, serving from 1984-1993. In 1991, President George H. W. Bush named Waters chairman of the TVA board. He felt his most valued contribution to TVA was addressing the demands on the river system from the view of a native East Tennessean. During his tenure, Waters was actively involved in TVA’s nuclear power operations. He was a member of the board of directors of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, a member of the American Nuclear Society, and was elected to the governing board of the World Association of Nuclear Operations.
Upon John’s retirement from TVA and his law practice, he remained active serving on the East Tennessee Foundation Board and Knoxville Airport Authority. Waters co-founded Leadership Sevier in 1997, and remained active in the organization until his death. He was in the 1986 class of Leadership Knoxville. John was also a founding member of Friends of the Smokies and was an honorary board member at the time of his death. He was “of counsel” at Long, Ragsdale & Waters, P.C. where his son and grandson practice.
John Waters wrote and published Downbound, a book of stories about his life and times on the Tennessee River and its tributaries. He also published a cookbook of his cornbread recipes.
John Waters conceived of and commanded the Smoky Mountain Queen. In 1976 Waters and a group of Sevier County men, including John Waters III, built a flatboat and floated it down the river system from Sevierville to New Orleans. This monumental undertaking was to re-create and commemorate the voyages of Sevier Countians that took place around 1776. They covered 1,800 miles in 35 days and celebrated our nation’s bicentennial in grand style.
John was known for speaking at GOP gatherings, local events, civic groups, and – most importantly - eating breakfast with his buddies and regaling the crowd at Frank Allen’s Market.
John B. Waters Jr. was preceded in death by parents, J. B. and Myrtle Paine Waters; his wife, Patsy Temple Waters; brother David Paine Waters; and sister Mary Louise Waters Hailey. He is survived by his children, John B. Waters III (Beth) of Knoxville and Cynthia Beth Waters of Sevierville; five grandchildren: Spencer Waters (Nicole) of Camp Lejeune, NC, Alexander Waters of Knoxville, Muteyi Waters of Sevierville, Judy Waters of Washington, DC and Nangesian Waters of Washington DC; sister-in-law Marie Temple of Sevierville; sister-in-law Mary Joyce Temple Hughes of Sevierville; and a host of nephews, nieces and extended family and friends.
Memorial donations may be made to The Orbit Village Project, P.O. Box 6448, Sevierville, TN 37864-6448 (founded and operated by daughter Cyndy Waters) or to the Friends of the Smoky Mountains, 3099 Winfield Dunn Parkway, Kodak, TN 37764.
“If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139: 9-10
“I am indeed grateful. Surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life.” John B. Waters Jr., 2000

Friends may call from 3-5 PM Friday at Atchley Funeral Home. The family will receive friends 12 PM – 1:45 PM Saturday, April 21 with funeral service to follow at 2 PM at First Baptist Church, Sevierville. Interment will follow in Shiloh Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Spencer Waters, Alexander Waters, Muteyi Waters, Preston Nevins, Andrew Temple, Drew Cutshaw, Connor Hughes and David Hughes.
Arrangements by Atchley Funeral Home, Sevierville. Online condolences may be made at www.atchleyfuneralhome.com


Previous Events

Visitation

Friday

20

Apr

3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Atchley Funeral Home

Visitation

Saturday

21

Apr

12:00 PM - 1:45 PM
First Baptist Church

118 East Main Street
Sevierville, TN 37862

Service

Saturday

21

Apr

2:00 PM
First Baptist Church

118 East Main Street
Sevierville, TN 37862

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