Colonel Clarence “Chuck” Murphy Watters, U.S. Army Retired, beloved husband of the late Fae Talbot Watters, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on January 24, 2024. He was 97.
Chuck was born in Haynesville, LA, on May 10, 1926, to the late Burrell and Birdie Mae Grant Watters. He enjoyed a happy childhood filled with close friends and small-town adventures. From these early years he also felt a call for purpose and excellence and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
Following his freshman year at Louisiana Tech, where Chuck was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, his sense of duty led him to enlist in the army at age 17 while awaiting entry to West Point. He served in Czechoslovakia during the final moments of World War II with the 633 Tank Destroyer Battalion, 16th Armored Division. He was in action around Nuremberg and Pilsen during the spring of 1945 and witnessed the surrender of significant German troops fleeing the Soviets.
Colonel Watters graduated from West Point on June 6, 1950, and went on to serve his country with honor and distinction. He served two tours in Korea, where he earned the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions on August 12, 1952 near Yongchon, North Korea. In 1953, he met Fae Elizabeth Talbot, his future wife of 45 years. Together they raised their daughters in a number of posts during the early years of marriage. Returning to West Point in 1962 to teach, Colonel Watters continued to contribute to the education and development of future leaders. His dedication to the Army extended to two tours in Korea, a tour in Lebanon, two tours in Vietnam and Operation Powerpack in the Dominican Republic, where his leadership as the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division proved invaluable. While ever humble, he was particularly proud of the impact the Army had on preserving free democratic elections in the DR. He remained vigilant in the pursuit of freedom and study of politics throughout his long life.
Colonel Watters was stationed in Germany in the late 50’s and was one of the last members of the Allied forces through Check Point Charlie in the Berlin Wall separating East and West Germany. He later attended the National War College and earned an MBA from George Washington University. His final active-duty assignment was at the Pentagon and other Washington DC locations, where he served as Director of Non-Appropriated funds for the U.S. Army. During his military service, Colonel Watters earned multiple awards including Legion of Merit (3 OLC), Joint Service Commendation and Army Commendation (1 OLC). He retired from the U.S. Army in 1975 after 31 years of dedicated service.
What Chuck treasured most about his military career, however, were the lifelong bonds of friendship formed with classmates and their wives from the West Point class of 1950. This lively group enjoyed special trips, class reunions, their children’s weddings and regular contact well into retirement.
Chuck was a faithful member of the Methodist church. After retiring from the Army, he moved his family to Mobile, AL to be near Fae’s extended family. Chuck took great satisfaction in becoming business manager of Dauphin Way United Methodist Church, putting his financial and people skills to work in a new chapter in his life. After losing Fae to a brief illness, he relocated to Greenville, SC in 2003 and joined Buncombe Street Methodist Church.
Chuck loved the Lord and lived by the principles of Duty, Honor, and Country. His driving force was his unwavering and unconditional love of his family. Chuck’s greatest joy came in his last 25 years as “Granddaddy” to Elizabeth, William, Virginia and Anna. He never missed a birthday party, dance or piano recital, gymnastics meet, sporting event or graduation. He was frequently seen in carpool line and patiently helped with homework. Chuck could be found surrounded by adoring family on a dock at Lake Keowee, doing a jigsaw puzzle in Highlands, at Wild Dunes each summer or in Mobile for Thanksgiving with the cousins. He lived life with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. He was known for his kindness, patience, wisdom, generosity and can-do attitude. He was intentional about life and was an eternal optimist. His legacy of love and leadership lives on forever in his grandchildren, daughters and sons-in-law. Chuck was blessed with a long, meaningful life and will be greatly missed.
He is survived by daughters, Leigh Watters Heidtman, and her husband, Edward; Jane Watters Harrison, and her husband, Chason; grandchildren, Elizabeth Locke Harrison, William Trask Heidtman, Virginia Watters Harrison, and Anna Talbot Heidtman; and three nephews, Grant, Larche and Max Watters. In addition to his immediate family, Colonel Watters was blessed to share a close bond with Fae’s family in Mobile, AL. He cherished the relationships with Sarah and Tom Damson and their two daughters, Mary Stewart Nelson and Liz Freeman, along with their respective families. In addition to his wife and parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Charles Grant Watters.
The family extends special thanks to Chuck’s caregivers for their dedicated and compassionate support over the past year.
Family and friends will gather to remember and celebrate Chuck on Thursday, February 8, 2024, from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the home of Edward and Leigh Heidtman, 213 Pine Forest Dr, Greenville SC 29601. The funeral service will be held on Friday, February 9, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. at Buncombe Street Methodist Church, Greenville. He will be buried with Fae at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Buncombe Street Methodist Church, 200 Buncombe St, Greenville, SC 29601, where Chuck was a member.
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