Wendell M. Waties, 83, osteopathic physician, chess expert

Posted: April 15, 2014

WENDELL M. WATIES was one of those old-fashioned doctors whom they just don't make anymore. He made house calls; he was on the sidelines at high school football games, ready to run out on the field when a player was hurt.

He worked 12-hour days at his office on Girard Avenue at 58th Street, West Philadelphia, opening his doors at 7 a.m. and not going home until 7 p.m., or later.

However, the weekends and vacation time belonged to his family.

"He worked all those hours, but on the weekends he focused on us," said his daughter, Carol Waties. "He was very humble about his occupation, but he bragged about us."

In fact, Wendell carried a card case with photos of his grandchildren - which his family called "Granddad's Brag Book" - and you couldn't get away from him without appropriately oohing and aahing at the pictures.

Wendell M. Waties, a physician who also was an outstanding cook who prepared meals not only for the family, but for Carol's book-club meetings, and an outstanding chess player good enough to participate in chess tournaments, died Wednesday of complications of prostate cancer. He was 83 and lived in Cherry Hill.

A son, David Waties, a retired Philadelphia lawyer, described his father as "the greatest man I ever knew."

David was trying to cope with two heartbreaking losses within a little more than six months. His wife, Darlene Brindle Waties, a page designer for the Daily News, died suddenly in September at 51.

"Sometimes life can be so cruel," he said in a Facebook post.

The "guidance and love" of his father, David said, "although not always appreciated at the time it was given, were always from the heart and will be truly missed."

David shared his father's passion for chess. David was also playing in chess tournaments, starting as a teenager.

"He made me a better player," David said. "Sometimes we played all night."

"He was a stand-up family man," Carol said. "He always encouraged us to do our best. He stressed education and encouraged us to work in the community to help others."

Wendell was born in Philadelphia, one of the nine children of Harrison Waties and the former Theodosia Lowery. He graduated from Overbrook High School in 1949, and went on to the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, from which he graduated with a degree in pharmacy in 1954.

He graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1959.

Wendell went to work as a physician for the Philadelphia School District, administering to students, giving physicals and working the sidelines at football games, from 1960 to 1965.

When he opened his office in West Philadelphia, he realized that some family members needed to bring their loved ones to his office before they went to work. That was why he started so early, his daughter said.

"He enjoyed working with people, helping people," said Carol, who is also a lawyer.

Wendell met Alice Rowe, a nurse, at a party. They were married in 1958 and formerly lived in Wynnefield. She worked in his office for a time. She died in 2010.

When his wife became incapacitated, Wendell took over the cooking duties. He cooked all the family meals and those for special holidays. Distant family members could call ahead and request their favorite meal, so it would be ready when they arrived.

Carol's book club was a frequent recipient of Wendell's culinary prowess. He would take his cue from a book that the club was reading and reproduce meals served in the book. He also made the desserts, pies, cakes, brownies - whatever was called for.

When Wendell's grandchildren began to come along, a whole new world opened up for him. He was suddenly the doting grandpop with full bragging rights.

He attended all their events, including Halloween parades, school plays, dance recitals. Whatever it was, Granddad was there.

The family also enjoyed educational trips to historic sites, locally and as far away as New Orleans, as well as museums, the zoo, playgrounds and the like.

They also spent a week at Wildwood every summer. The family moved to Cherry Hill in 1972.

Besides his son and daughter, Wendell is survived by two other sons, Wendell Jr. and Gregory; a brother, Bernard; and six grandchildren.

Services: 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Healey Funeral Home, 9 White Horse Pike, Haddon Heights, N.J. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in Locustwood Memorial Park, Cherry Hill.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to charity.

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