SHREVEPORT, LA -- A memorial service was held Jan. 13 at Centenary College for Dr. Mary Warters, who was a legendary professor of biology at Centenary for 44 years.
She died Friday, Dec. 22, 1995 at The Glen Retirement Village in Shreveport. She was 93.
The memorial service was held at 2 p.m. in Brown Memorial Chapel at Centenary College with Chaplain Robert Ed Taylor, President Kenneth L. Schwab and President Emeritus Donald A. Webb officiating. Burial was in North Carolina.
Dr. Warters was born in Rome, Ga., Oct. 18, 1902. She held the A.B. degree from Shorter College, the M.A. degree from Ohio State University, and the Ph.D. from the University of Texas. She came to Centenary College as an instructor in biology in 1927. Her work in the Biology Department spanned 44 years, and her mark, through research, administration, and above all, teaching, is everlasting on the profession of science, the practice of medicine, and on the hearts and minds of those who were privileged to work and study with her. She exemplified the meaning of greatness in a teacher.
Dr. Warters' work in genetics is known all over the United States. She was considered an expert in the fields of genetics, embryology, and anatomy. She wrote numerous authoritative works on the Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) for professional journals.
She held grants from the Carnegie Foundation, the University of Missouri, the Jackson Memorial Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine and the Atomic Energy Commission, and was a research participant at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1959, 1961, and 1962.
In 1963 Dr. Warters received the Outstanding Faculty Award at Centenary College. In 1968 she was given the Hemenway Award, and she was awarded the Shreveport Medical Society's Distinguished Service Award in 1970. She was the first woman and layman to receive this award.
On Feb. 2, 1984, the then Centenary President Donald A. Webb announced the establishment of the Mary Warters Endowed Chair of Biology to perpetuate the name of Dr. Warters and the high standards that she expected. The gift was given by many former students of Dr. Warters, including physicians, dentists, and other friends who wished to recognize the dedication and excellence that she exhibited in her teaching. The establishment of the chair gave them an opportunity to pay tribute in a fashion consistent with her position in the academic community as well as in their hearts, and it gave an opportunity to say "thank you."
Dr. Warters was well known for her devotion to her students. A former student said that although Dr. Warters had no children "all of us felt like we were her children." It has been said that no student going from Dr. Warters' classroom to a medical school ever failed to make it academically. A prominent surgeon on the faculty of a large Southern medical school once said, "We all like to get her students. We never question anyone she sends to us. We know they're good, and we know they'll make it. They never let her down."
When Dr. Warters entered the Glen Retirement Village in 1990 she gave her home on Greenway Place to Centenary College.
Dr. Warters was a member of the First Presbyterian Church and the Altrusa Society.
Survivors include a niece, Virginia Little Smith, Durham, N.C., and four nephews, Dr. Raymond Warters, Salt Lake City, Utah; Dr. T. D. Warters, Newport News, Va.; Robert L. Webb, El Dorado Hills, Calif.; and Lee H. Webb, Marietta, Ga.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Mary Warters Endowment for Student Research, Centenary College, Office of Special Gifts, Shreveport, LA 71134-1188.
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