Funds being raised for memorial to honor activist Waters

February 14, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Donald F. "Mike" Waters devoted his life to the people of Chambersburg, a favor the community can now return by helping pay for a memorial honoring his legacy.

A committee has been formed to raise $15,000 for a memorial at the borough's Second Street Playground. Assistant Borough Manager David Finch said last week friends and associates of Waters, who died Sept. 12 at the age of 66, had contributed $730, and there are verbal commitments from two corporations for $1,000 each.

Borough Councilman Robert Wareham, chairman of the Mike Waters Memorial Committee, said he had a verbal commitment for $500 from another company.

The memorial will consist of a bronze bust atop a granite monument with a plaque listing Waters' contributions to the community. The borough wants the memorial ready for dedication this spring.


"It was the playground for a lot of folks in the Third Ward," Waters' widow, Jenny, said about the selection of the memorial site. His son, Don Waters, said the Chambersburg Community Improvement Association long ago "adopted" the playground, painting the basketball court, spreading mulch around playground equipment and helping maintain the grounds.

Mike Waters was a founder of the Community Improvement Association in 1963. From the fight for fair housing and wider job opportunities for minorities in the 1960s and 1970s, the emphasis switched to tutoring and other programs for disadvantaged children, said Don Waters, now the association's executive director.

The association's tutoring program, started in 1979, now serves five elementary schools in the Chambersburg Area School District, according to Don Waters. Elevator Taylor, a co-founder of the association, said the tutoring program serves 103 students.

Waters also helped start the Striving To Educate People, or STEP, program to ease the transition from high school to college by arranging campus tours and preparing students for college entrance exams.

Waters was an employee interviewer for the Cumberland Valley Job Center, but the list of commissions, boards and organizations he worked with exceeded two dozen. "He had to do more than his share," Jenny Waters said.

A short list includes serving on the Borough Planning and Zoning and Civil Service commissions, Downtown Chambersburg Inc., Chambersburg Area Development Corp., Franklin County Prison Ministry and the Cumberland Valley School of Music. As a member of the school's board of directors he was able to get scholarship funds for students whose parents could not otherwise afford the musical training, his son said.

"He gave of his time without looking for something in return," Wareham said.

Don Waters said his father had a subtly persuasive quality. "He was never the kind of person who said, 'This is what you ought to do,'" he said.

Tax-deductible contributions can be made to: The Mike Waters Memorial Committee, 100 S. Second Street, Chambersburg, PA 17201.

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