Pastors' Memoirs

George Lipscomb Waters, 1900-1994

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Son of devout Methodist missionaries to Japan, Basil Worthington Waters and Tallulah Harris Lipscomb Waters, George Waters was born in Osaka, Japan, May 21, 1900. When he was 10, his mother became gravely ill and was unable to survive a hurried trip to the United States for medical care; she died when the family reached California. George and his father "hatched it, " in his words, with his older brothers, Basil Worthington Waters Jr. and Harris Magruder Waters, as B. W. Waters Sr., served Methodist pastorates in the valleys of Shenandoah and Roanoke, ending his work and his life in Buena Vista.

After terms in Randolph-Macon Academy and Cave Spring High School, George finished his A.B. degree at Randolph-Macon College, divinity study at Emory University, and further graduate work at Yale University School of Theology. He returned as a missionary to Japan in February 1922.

Octavia Clegg, a Scarritt-educated missionary, was assigned to his mission in 1927; George and Octavia were married in July 1929. They were the proud and loving parents of three children: James Lipscomb Waters of Kent, Ohio; Marie Louise Waters of Radford, Virginia; and Margaret Waters Moore of Nashville, Tennessee.

The couple brought their son Jimmy back to the United States in 1932. George served several charges in Virginia throughout the '30s, living in Rockbridge Baths, New Hope, Winchester, and Bloxom. It was in Bloxom in the fall of 1941 that George was recruited by the FBI as a translator of Japanese. Pearl Harbor was bombed less than three months later. George spent the difficult war years maintaining the secrecy required, even from his wife, making unexpected trips and working unexpected hours, often on short notice and without being able to let the family know where he was or what he was doing.

It was with pride and an even deeper sense of call that he cut his salary in half and returned to the Methodist ministry in 1949. He served and profoundly cared for pastoral charges in Halifax, Lynch Station, Stanardsville, Beaverdam, Colonial Beach, Knotts Island and others for the next 16 years. After retirement, he was visiting pastor at Central Church in Staunton for 10 years, and then assistant minister at Basic Church in Waynesboro for almost as long. George and Octavia "really retired" to Showalter Center, Warm Hearth Village, Blacksburg, in 1984, where they lived until Octavia's death, November 24, 1993, and George's death, March 21, 1994. George would have been touched and inspired, as were his friends and family, by the funeral service, March 24, at Basic Church, conducted by the Rev. R. Elwood Pack. He would have been especially moved by the words of his good friend, Lemuel E. Irvin, and by the thoughtful arrangements made by lifelong friends Purcell and Dottie Daughtry. His body was interred in Green Hill Cemetery, Buena Vista, beside his wife and near his father.

One of George's favorite hymns serves as metaphor and memory of his long, active, and abundantly satisfying life.
A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,

A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill;

O may it all my powers engage
To do my Master's will!

-Marie L. Waters



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