Tom Waters, founding member, 1926-2012
Published On: 12/17/2012
Tom Waters, founding member and songwriter, 1926-2012
Tom loved writing and authored six books including The Streams and Rivers of Minnesota (1977), The Superior North Shore (1987) and an AFS monograph ‘Sediment in streams: sources biological effects and control (1995)’. Tom was one of those rare scientists whose research leads to a fundamental change in the way other scientists think about the field in which they work and whose contributions, though fundamental in nature, lead to practical advances in the related applied fields. Tom was a poet and song-writer as well. Many late night jam sessions at earlier ‘NABS’ meetings were hosted by Tom and Don Webb (who also passed this year) and one song always requested by all was the ‘Benthic Waltz’.
During his last year, in assisted living, Tom perked up for visitors from his teaching days, his daughter said. "He would start talking about these things as if it was yesterday.” In one of the six books that he authored, "The Rivers of Minnesota," Tom wrote about the old adage to take a kid fishing. "Standing in a rushing riffle, mention the need for that clear water," he wrote. "Turn over a stone or two to discover some mayfly nymphs. Think of him or her not just as a kid going fishing, but also as a future scientist, or a senator, or maybe even a judge hearing a water pollution lawsuit." To quote a line from the Benthic Waltz: “Old benthologists never die, They just drift away. “ His legacy will live on through his writings and those he inspired.
Obituary written by Dave Penrose and Ray Newman.
Thomas F. Waters 1986
Oh, come let's dance to the Benthic Waltz,
Our Society has no peer or faults.
We'll swing and we'll sway 'til the dawn of day
To the beautiful Benthic Waltz.
We'll dance to the beat of a stonefly drum
Whirrrl away to con-tin-u-um
We'll never get caught by Simulium.
While dancing the Benthic Waltz.
Now, Ralph went out to his favorite lake
Some oligochaete samples he would take
He tied a line to his Ekman dredge
And lowered it over the side.
In the Boy Scouts they taught him to tie a knot
But the truth of the matter is he forgot
And the line that was tied to his Ekman dredge
Disappeared over the side.
Now, Jack went out to his favorite stream
To found a new theory, his lifelong dream.
He slipped in a riffle, and we all heard him say,
"Eureka! By Gosh!", as he spiralled away.
Now, Bruce went down to the bottom to see
The catchnets of some Hydropsychidae.
Well, he got caught, as he later explained,
And a bit of coarse particle he became.
Now, Rich went out with his date to see
If they could find a nice shady tree
"Oh no!", she said, "I would rather be
Dancing the Benthic Waltz!"
Now, Ken tells a tale never heard in school:
Don't fall in the detritus pool
Or you'll get shredded, and filtered, and then
As a little brown pellet get eaten again.
Now, I wrote in for a research grant,
But the Foundation said that they're sorry, they can't.
Oh, I'll never get rich on a federal grant
So let's do the Benthic Waltz.
To Rosemary I sent a manuscript
But she sent it back with a rejection slip
Said she, "It's best you restrict yourself
To writing the Benthic Waltz".
Now, Don went out for his beetles and such
Tooling along in his pick-up truck.
Oh, he'll be back when his grant is up
Dancing the Benthic Waltz.
Now, I fell in my crick and I started to sink
A happier ending than you might think
For old benthologists never die
They just drift away.
Who is the man who wrote this song
And who always plays as we sing along?
His name fits his work to a "T", you see –
Tom Waters, Tom Waters is he.
“Ralph Brinkhurst, Jack Webster, Bruce Wallace, Rich Merritt, Ken Cummins, Rosemary Mackay, Don Webb.”
Published on pages 123-124 in Mackay, R.J. 2005. Beneath the surface: A history
of the North American Benthological Society 1953-2003. Journal of the North
American Benthological Society, Lawrence, KS.
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