He Always Treated Everyone the Same: Remembering Thomas R. Waters

My husband Tom was a good man.

When Tom was seventeen years old, he pulled a man from the deep water of the lake where he lived in Florida and breathed new life back into him.

The night he asked me to marry him, we drove from my house to tell his parents.  Someone was stranded on a country road. Tom stopped to help.

He was always like that. Always looking out for other people. Always caring. If Tom sensed someone was alone or broken, he reached out. He was well loved because he loved well.

Tom died on October 29, 2014. It was a Wednesday. We held his services the following week to allow travel time for our family and friends from out of town. The night of his visitation a thousand people filed past Tom’s casket and greeted me. They offered words of comfort, hugs and expressions of the sorrow they felt for this loss.

Two of those coming through the line stand out to me even today.

The first was a homeless man we had befriended through church. Warren had cleaned up nicely and found his way to the church building. He had long gray hair and wore a rather ill-fitting sports coat he had borrowed for the occasion. As Warren walked through the line, I introduced him to Tom’s two older brothers standing beside me. Warren thrust out his hand and shook their hands heartily.

“Your brother was a good man,” he told them with tears in his eyes. “He always treated everybody the same. He was always good to me. He was a friend.”

A few more people passed through before Bill Marras, a fellow researcher in Tom’s field, approached. Bill is tall in stature and clean cut. He, too, has long gray hair. His coat fit. Bill had waited for nearly four hours to reach us and when I introduced him to Tom’s brothers his words were nearly the same.

Bill shook hands with Ron and Rick and said, “Your brother was a good man. He always treated everybody the same. We worked together, but more than that, he was a friend.”

When we returned to the house that evening, my brothers-in-law asked me about the two men. All I could tell them is that both men were right. Tom was a good man. And the fact that a homeless man and a renowned researcher stated the same things about him demonstrated that Tom did indeed treat everybody the same.

I married a good man.

The CDC Foundation now has a scholarship in Tom’s name: the Thomas R. Waters Memorial Scholarship for Ergonomics Research. We are working hard to raise the monies to make the fund an endowed scholarship that lives on.

Since October is National Ergonomics Month, we are working to raise $15,000 to support this work before the end of the month. Donations can be made at any time, but up to $15,000.00 received this month will be matched dollar for dollar.

All I can offer is “Thank you.” So I thank you ahead of time for your generosity.



This blog was originally posted on Rebecca Waters' personal site. It has been lightly edited for length.


Rebecca Waters is the widow of Thomas R. Waters.