St. Petersburg, Fla.–Longtime Florida jeweler Bruce Walter Watters, who joined his family’s jewelry business after serving in the U.S. Air Force, died last month. He was 85.
Born Dec. 21, 1930 in St. Petersburg to the late Naomi Stevens Watters and Bruce Weaver Watters, he graduated from St. Petersburg High School and attended Darlington Preparatory School before earning his bachelor’s and MBA from Emory University in Atlanta.
Watters worked as a unit and dollar control supervisor at Rich’s Department Store in 1955 and 1956, and served in the Air Force as a multi-engine and helicopter pilot before being released as a captain.
After leaving the service, he went to work for his family’s jewelry company, which was started by W.A. Rogers in 1905. Rogers eventually was joined in the business by his nephew, who was Watters’ father.
Watters ran the jewelry store until 1999, when his son, Jim Watters, took over the business.
He served on the board of directors for the Florida Jewelers Association and was elected secretary/treasurer and vice president from 1961 to 1965.
In addition to being an active member of the jewelry industry, he was extremely involved in his local community, serving on a long list of civic and philanthropic organizations in St. Petersburg.
They include the St. Petersburg Merchants Association, Park and Shop Inc., the University Club, the Dragon Club, the St. Petersburg Sunrise Rotary Club, All Children’s Hospital and the Salvation Army.
An avid fisherman who loved yachting and preaching the word of God, Watters also was active with the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, the Southern Ocean Racing Conference and, in 1983, was recognized by the U.S. Yacht Racing Union as a senior race officer.
He is survived by his wife, Roswitha E. Watters; sons Thomas M. Watters (Jane) and James B. Watters (Grace); daughter Cathy L. Clayton; step-children John Jewell (Diana), Diana Thomas (Michael) and Andrea Kiefel (Herbert); 11 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and many extended family members and friends.
Services were held last month in St. Petersburg.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Watters’ honor to The Sunrise Rotary Club or the Infinity Club at Memorial-Donations.org.
To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family, go here.