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John S. Waters, 91

The Baltimore Sun

John Samuel Waters, who founded a commercial fire-extinguisher business, died of multiple myeloma yesterday at the Blakehurst Retirement Community. The former Lutherville resident was 91.

Born in Owings Mills, he was a 1934 Franklin High School graduate. He earned an economics degree from the Johns Hopkins University, where he played varsity lacrosse and was a member of Delta Phi fraternity.

He then worked in the purchasing department of the Butler Brothers wholesale dry goods firm in downtown Baltimore. During World War II, he was an Army finance officer at Fort Meade.

He was an Alex. Brown & Sons stockbroker briefly, then, in 1947, struck out on his own and founded the Fireline Corp. to sell and service fire extinguishers and other equipment. The business on Hollins Ferry Road remains in the family.

"He was a terrific mentor and teacher," said his son Stephen Bosley Waters, who operates the Fireline business. "He was a patient man. He let me make my own mistakes, and then he corrected me."

Mr. Waters was the 1966 president of the National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors, a group he helped found. He also received its Lifetime Achievement Award.

"He made us always feel safe," said another son, filmmaker John S. Waters Jr. "Is that not the most important thing a parent could do for their children?"

Mr. Waters, a past president of the Star Spangled Banner Flag House Association, was a member of the L'Hirondelle and Johns Hopkins clubs. He was also active in the Salvation Army Advisory Board and the Baltimore Rotary. Rotary members honored him with the Paul Harris Award for "exemplary service" to the club and its charities. He was also a past president of the Blakehurst Residents Association.

"His family came first," said a daughter, Kathleen Waters Marshall of Bridgewater, Va. "He was a father who was always there for us. He was home at 5:30 every day, and we ate at 6."

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Church of Holy Comforter, 130 W. Seminary Ave. in Lutherville.

In addition to his sons and daughter, survivors include his wife of nearly 64 years, the former Patricia Whitaker; another daughter, Patricia Whitaker Waters Jr. of Alexandria, Va.; seven grandchildren; and three great- grandchildren.

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