Reporters may contact: Janet Ragland
SMU News and Information
(214) 768-7650


April 10, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology is establishing the S. Merle and MaRee A. Waters Endowment, made possible by gifts from their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and their families and by a grant from the Joe and Lois Perkins Foundation.

Proceeds from the endowment will be used to provide scholarships for theology students planning to enter the ministry in the Texas or Southwest Texas Conferences of The United Methodist Church, where Merle Waters has been a longtime pastor and member.

"This endowment will aid Perkins School of Theology in its ongoing tradition of excellence in the preparation of ministers," said Perkins Dean Robin W. Lovin. "Through this endowment, Merle and MaRee Waters, their families and friends, will continue to touch lives in future generations."

Merle Waters is now semi-retired and still an active associate minister at St. Andrews United Methodist Church in San Antonio. He and MaRee have served 11 churches and three conferences in a 56-year career of Texas Methodism. The endowment, organized by their son, Stephen Waters of Seattle, honors their many years of service and, unlike many other Perkins endowments that are funded posthumously, is being given while the Waters are both still living.

"Throughout their lives, my father and mother have left a wide swathe of transformed lives," said Stephen Waters. "I wanted to make an enduring statement about the impact they have made. My father has always embodied the finest attributes of the Methodist pastor -- a skilled preacher and hardworking church administrator and counselor. My mother has been the epitome of the minister's wife -- devoted, supporting, self-sacrificing and an asset to the church family. Their dedication and example have earned them the love and respect of those fortunate enough to know them."

In 1944, Sylvan Merle Waters married Mildred Marie "MaRee" Atkins and the newlyweds moved to Dallas so Merle could enroll in the SMU School of Theology. MaRee enrolled in classes and served for a time as secretary to then-SMU President Umphrey Lee. She soon left to become a full-time mother and the couple ultimately raised four children, three of whom are SMU alumni. In 1947, Merle received his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Perkins School of Theology, and shortly thereafter was ordained by Bishop A. Frank Smith.

Additional contributions to the Waters Endowment can be made by calling Mary Brouillette at (214) 768-2026.

Perkins School of Theology, one of Southern Methodist University's three original schools, trains students from all religious denominations, and offers advanced degrees in theological studies, sacred music, religious education and ministry.