Four hundred folks spent this past Saturday night at the Knoxville Museum of Art honoring the memory of Dr. W. Bedford Waters, a medical pioneer in the field of urology, a supporter of the local arts scene, a world traveler and a master entertainer. He passed away May 25 at the age of 71.
“Bedford is smiling tonight,” said his first cousin and close friend Cecelia Waters, speaking for the family. “We are so overwhelmed,” she said of the turnout. “He was my best friend. He loved his job, his patients, his colleagues. He will be missed, but never forgotten.”
Fittingly, the event was a party, featuring a lavish spread of delicacies prepared by one of Knoxville’s best caterers, Holly Hambright. Tiny cones of ahi tuna tartare were passed by servers in black. Guests were greeted with flutes of champagne. Wine and beer flowed freely from the bars. I do think Dr. Waters would have loved it.
Bill Rukeyser, chairman of the University of Tennessee Medical Center board, described Dr. Waters, who helped create the urology residency there, as “smart, elegant, sociable and incisive.” At UT Medical Center, Dr. Waters served as chairman and director of the program.
He was honored many times for his medical accomplishments, most recently last month when he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Urological Association.
He considered his biggest achievement to be the fact that he personally trained 70 medical residents. That, he said, was a contribution to the future of humankind.
But many on Saturday remembered him for his style and hospitality.
“He was impeccable — even in his scrubs,” said his friend A.D. Baxter. Much of the decor on Saturday featured his favorite color — purple.
He was well known for his love of food and wine and his joy in entertaining others.
His mother, Irene G. Bedford Waters, inspired him with a Bible quote from Hebrews 13:12. “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Dr. Bob Flanigan of Loyola University noted, “Couldn’t nobody have a dinner party like Dr. Bedford Waters! He was a wonderful chef. He sent us countless pictures of his food and his place settings.” Said A.D. Baxter, “He loved to see everybody else happy.”
Because of his sociable nature, Dr. Waters was no stranger to The Blue Streak. Several times I joked with him that I loved knowing a urologist named “Waters.” He always laughed at that, although I’m sure he had heard it many times.
I thought you might like to see a few of the photos of him at local social occasions.