A Tribute to Robert E. Waters

Mr. Robert Eckert Waters, 90, of Medina, passed away Wed., July 29, 2015. Waters, the former editor and publisher of the Medina (Daily) Journal-Register and the Albion Weekly Advertiser and aide to two state senators, was born in Medina, the son of Alonzo L. and Helen E. Waters. Other than his World War II service and his college years in Ohio, he spent his entire life in Medina and was an outspoken proponent of American small-town life. He was a 1942 graduate of Medina High School and in 1943 entered the Army, eventually serving in Europe with the 526th Engineers. Following the war, Bob attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. During his senior year he was elected president (consul) of the founding chapter of Sigma Chi Fraternity. After graduation in 1949, he joined his father in publication of the Journal-Register (previously called Medina Daily Journal). The newspaper enjoyed year-by-year growth in its prime. Bob remained at the helm after the death of his father in 1980 and then acquired the Albion Weekly Advertiser, Medina Penny Saver and incorporated a TV guide booklet. The group became known as Lake Plains Publications. In 1985 the group was purchased by Park Newspapers, a large media chain headed by Roy Hampton Park of Ithaca. With that sale of Lake Plains Publications, politics and government became new careers for Bob who had campaigned for his father during the years of Tom Dewey and Nelson Rockefeller. Bob spent many years on the Orleans GOP Committee and Republican State Committee and he served a decade as councilman and deputy supervisor for the Town of Ridgeway. From 1985 to 1995 he commuted weekly to Albany to work as communications director for two close friends, Senator John B. Daly and Senator George D. Maziarz. In early years after college, Bob headed the Chamber of Commerce and at other times the Masonic and Elks Lodges. He helped form the Medina Historical Society, the Orleans Health Association and the Village Manager Association. He was a member of Oak Orchard Yacht Club, American Federation of Musicians, American Legion, V.F.W. and Medina Red Cross Chapter. As a lifelong member of St. John’s Episcopal Church he became a licensed lay reader, a vestryman and annual canvass chairman. He served 34 years as a director of Medina Savings & Loan Association. In 2003, Bob was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award from Medina High School. Bob’s quote on the plaque honoring him reads, “We are here for just a pinpoint of time; make life count for something.” In October of 1959, Bob married Barbara Ann Balcerzak of Medina and they settled on five acres just west of Medina in an 1833 farmhouse of Medina sandstone which they christened “Hillstead.”  The historic house was restored and upgraded by Frank J. Balcerzak & Son, and the family enjoyed 50 years in the home. In the period 1957-59 Bob was one of five founders of Shelridge Country Club and was its first president.  In 1978 he assumed chairmanship of a 25-member group known as the Armory Action Committee organized to take control of the abandoned Medina Armory and put it to beneficial use. Out of this effort came the origin of Lake Plains YMCA unit here (now Orleans County YMCA). Named by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller to membership on the Genesee State Park Commission out of Letchworth Park, Bob served 13 years and had the privilege of presiding at the opening of the Orleans section of Lake Ontario Parkway. This exposure to park work led him to help establish and to head the Glenwood Lake Commission in Ridgeway. For over a half century he was administrator of the Journal-Register Camp Fund for Underprivileged Children, established in memory of his mother. A lifelong advocate for people with disabilities, Bob supported the work of the Arc of Orleans County and assisted in creating an endowment fund in 1999 which continues in perpetuity. The success of that drive and a capital project led to the naming of the Robert E. Waters Article 16 Clinic, a high honor for Bob. In 2004, at age 79, Bob called back together the remaining members of the old Armory Action Committee and formed the Medina Sandstone Society. This group continues to boost the historic nature of the community and the famous Orleans stone which was named “Medina.”  Bob and the society founded the Medina Sandstone Trust as a civic endowment. Bob is survived by his wife of 56 years, Barbara; daughters, Kassie Smith and Julie Waters; a grandson, Cody Robert Smith; a granddaughter, Kaitlyn Bea Smith; an aunt, Mrs. Harold Waters; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Wed., Aug. 5, 2015, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, E. Center St., Medina. Burial in Boxwood Cemetery, Medina. There will be no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, friends may make memorial contributions to the Arc of Orleans County’s Camp Rainbow; St. John’s Episcopal Church in Medina; or the Medina Sandstone Trust of the Medina Sandstone Society. Arrangements are being completed by the Cooper Funeral Home, Medina. Share condolences at www.cooperfuneralhomemedina.com.

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