Obituary: Ernest Leon Waters


Ernest Leon Waters (Leon), age 89, of Birmingham, Alabama, died peacefully on June 25, 2024, at home with his family. He is survived by the love of his life, Kathryn Voigt Waters, his children Thomas (Jennifer) and Valerie (Darlene), his grandchildren Mary Kathryn (Gann) and Martha Louise, his great-granddaughter, Maeve, and his sister, Jennie Passarella, sister-in law Candace Waters, and a host of nieces and nephews. He celebrated 65 years of marriage with his wife Kathryn on June 14, 2024.

Leon was born in Cullman, Alabama, on December 8, 1934, to John G. and Laura Waters. He was one of 11 children and the first to attend college. He worked year-round to put himself through Birmingham-Southern College and completed his degree in music. In June 1959, he married his wife Kathryn.

After serving Hanceville High School for three years as band director, Leon was offered a claims position with State Farm Insurance. He moved the family to Birmingham in 1968 when he was promoted to Claims Superintendent and later became a State Farm Agent. Over the years, Leon earned a reputation for being fair and honest. He truly lived up to the State Farm motto “Like a Good Neighbor” and always displayed genuine concern and care for his customers. He retired from the company after 39 years of service.

He was a member of the Birmingham-Southern College Alumni Choir for over 40 years and attended Shades Valley Lutheran for almost 60 years where he served as choir director for 25 years. Leon was an avid supporter of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, he enjoyed playing trumpet in the Birmingham Community Band, and was an active member of the Homewood Kiwanis Club for 40 years.

“Buddy,” as his children and grandchildren knew him, was generous in his affection and unconditional love for family and equally giving within his church and community. His love for others was a quiet way of displaying his Christian witness. He used dry humor, kindness, and compassion to bring calm and peace to situations that needed resolution. It was the secret to his success in life and business.

A public memorial service will be held on Tuesday, July 2, at 11 a.m. at Shades Valley Lutheran Church, 720 Shades Creek Parkway, Birmingham, AL 35209. In lieu of flowers, donations to Shades Valley Lutheran Church are appreciated.