Chris Waters

Harold Arthur John Christopher Waters (“Chris”), of Saunderstown, was born on November 8th, 1926 in Wilmington, North Carolina and died peacefully in his sleep on December 28th at age 93. He was the son of Beatrix Theodora Baring-Gould, of England, and Harold Carlton Waters, a native of Australia and New Zealand who found his way into the U.S. Coast Guard.

Chris grew up with his mother in the United States and Wales, and attended grade school at the Bulkeley School in New London, Connecticut. After serving in the U.S. Army at the end of World War II, Chris attended Harvard College on the G.I. Bill and received a degree in Economics and French. Feeling uninspired by a life on Wall Street, he moved to Paris for several years, attending the Sorbonne and earning diplomas in French Civilization and Language. He completed his M.A. and Ph.D. in Romance Languages at the University of Washington–Seattle, and thereafter began a long career in academia as a specialist in the Francophone literature of West Africa, eventually counting Leopold Senghor, the former poet and first President of Senegal, as one of his friends. After teaching at the Salisbury School, and serving as a professor of French at Carleton College and William & Mary, Chris began teaching at the University of Rhode Island in 1962. While at URI, he was active in Phi Beta Kappa and was a co-founder of the South County French Speaking Union. He published prolifically throughout his career, authoring books on West African theater and the French poet and diplomat Paul Claudel. After retiring in 1991 as professor emeritus, Chris embarked on a second career as a poet, pouring his love and energy into a calling that he’d felt since he was a young boy. He published hundreds of poems in literary journals around the world and produced several cherished books of poems, many of which centered on the Outer Banks, where he had summered for most years since 1957. He was active in various local poetry groups and loved his fellow poets dearly.

Among his most precious experiences were crabbing in the Pamlico Sound, exploring the wildlife around Rome Point, snorkeling and swimming along the Cape Hatteras Seashore, and launching his canoe on Narrow River. He also savored his sabbaticals in Paris and Oxford and he avidly enjoyed bicycling with his shoes off, playing tennis under the hot sun until he was soaked in sweat (in winter, with gloves on), and fishing with his feet for shellfish in the waters near Saunderstown Yacht Club, where he was a longtime member. He loved classical music and theater and he was a regular subscriber at Trinity Rep, the Gamm Theater, the Kingston Chamber Music Festival, and the Rhode Island Chamber Music Concerts. Most of all, Chris cherished his family, including Dora, his wife of 41 years, his daughters Gwyneth and Jennifer, his son Matthew and daughter-in-law Qiong, and his grandson Arthur.

His Requiem Eucharist will be held Thursday, January 2, 2020 at 11:00 am in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 55 Main St., Wickford.  Burial will follow in Quidnessett Memorial Cemetery.   

Relatives & friends are invited & may call on Wednesday from 4:00-7:00 pm in The Cranston-Murphy Funeral Home of Wickford, 140 West Main Street, Wickford Village, North Kingstown.  

In lieu of flowers, Chris would probably prefer that you vote for the Democrat in 2020.

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