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Henry D. Waters, 88, beloved Nichols School English teacher and coach

April 20, 1930 – Jan. 4, 2019

Five years after graduating from Dartmouth College in 1952, Henry D. Waters became president of the local franchise of the Automatic Canteen Co., a vending and catering business that provided meals and snacks to thousands of workers.

Then the stress of the demanding job began to affect his health, said his son, Henry D. "Jay" Waters Jr.

In 1965, "his doctor told him to do one of two things," said Jay Waters. The doctor said, "If you are going to continue to run the business, buy a lot of life insurance, so your family is taken care of. Or you have to cut back."

Mr. Waters took stock of his life and decided he would be happier at his alma mater, Nichols School, where he had been a stellar student and athlete and was already coaching hockey.

Nichols School hired him to teach middle school English in 1965, the start of a 25-year career in which he taught, inspired and guided thousands of students as a teacher, soccer, baseball and hockey coach and lower school dean.

"He did something that a lot of people won't do," said Jay Waters. "He gave up a business to do something he really loved."

Mr. Waters died after a short illness on Jan. 4 in a hospice facility near his home in Naples, Fla., where he had lived for the last 20 years. He was 88.

Nichols Head of School Bill Clough said, "Henry Waters '48 was many things to Nichols School: an alumnus, alumni parent and grandparent, distinguished member of our faculty, admired dean, adviser and coach.

"Beyond being a genuinely kind person, he clearly loved his time at Nichols. We will miss him."

Mr. Waters was born in Buffalo, the third child and only son of John M. and Grace (Siegfried) Waters. His father operated a retail candy machine business and the family lived on Nottingham Terrace.

In 1948, his senior year at Nichols, Mr. Waters, an honors student, won the Williams Cup, an award given to a senior with a high academic average and a varsity letter. As a senior he was voted most valuable player on the varsity hockey team. At Dartmouth College, he played varsity hockey for four years and graduated in 1952.

In December of 1951, when he was a student at Dartmouth, he married his high school sweetheart, Sibyl Dann, who had just graduated from Buffalo Seminary. They raised their two sons and daughter on Middlesex Road.

At Nichols, Mr. Waters coached varsity hockey from 1966 to 1982 and ran the hockey portion of the Nichols summer day camp for about a decade, his son said.

His lessons about sportsmanship were as important as any tactical advice he gave players, Jay Waters said. When he met former students, they "would say that they still use many of the things he taught them in the classroom or on the athletic fields back when he was at Nichols, and they are better for it today, which always put a smile on his face," Jay Waters said.

Nichols named Mr. Waters a Distinguished Alumnus in 1986.

In 1991, Nichols created an award in his name for fifth- and sixth-grade students that honors students who display the qualities he valued: "a willingness to participate in all activities to the best of their ability; fair-mindedness; good sportsmanship; honesty; empathy; citizenship; and a positive sense of humor."

In 1995, Mr. Waters was given the William Nichols Award, honoring a faculty member who makes a lasting contribution to the school. He was inducted into the Nichols Athletic Hall of Fame as an athlete and coach in 2003.

Mr. Waters served on the Elmwood-Franklin School board from 1962 to 1974, including a year as vice president, and as a class representative for the Dartmouth Class of 1952.

Mr. Waters was a member of the Country Club of Buffalo and the Buffalo Tennis & Squash Club, where he was the city’s Class B squash champion. He also was a deacon at Westminster Presbyterian Church, a board member of its Early Childhood Program, an original Buffalo Bills season-ticket holder and an avid gardener.

For many years, Henry and Sibyl Waters wintered in Naples, Fla., and Mr. Waters moved to Naples a few years after his wife of 46 years died in 1994. He shared his life for the past 23 years with Ann Merrick.

Besides his son, Mr. Waters is survived by another son, John; a daughter, Sibyl Taylor; two sisters, Mary "Molly" Anderson and Joan Keesling; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. May 10 in Westminster Presbyterian Church.

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