The life of Pat Watters spanned a time period that included driving mules across Texas to jet trips to Europe. Music provided a living and a career for him and a brighter life for those he touched. Born in Dallas County, Texas in 1902, his childhood was spent in frequent moves between ranching and operating small businesses. After ninth grade, he went to Wyoming to dig silos. He then attended business school in Dallas which landed him a job as secretary to an executive. He moved up the corporate ladder and managed salesmen in St. Louis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago and other Midwest cities. One of the products being sold was violin lessons – the company provided the violin and music, the customer paid for the lesson. Salesmen collected the money weekly and he earned a good living during the depression. During his travels in Wisconsin, he met Marie Fondow and got married. Moving to Minneapolis in 1939, he went into his own business providing lessons for piano accordion players. In 1942, he established the Watters Music Center in downtown Minneapolis, selling concertinas and Wurlitzer piano accordions. Because of the war, there was a shortage of concertinas in this country. They were being made in East Germany, but there was a problem with the “Iron Curtain”. Concertina maker Arno Arnold escaped from East Germany on night crawling through barbed wire to West Germany. He began making concertinas and bandoneons again, supplying Pat with much needed merchandise. Pat bought copyrights and inventory from Silberhorn Pub. Co. and added a line of concertinas from Italy.
In 1965 he created “Music and Dance News”, a popular magazine in the polka industry. At age 65, he sold the music center in Minneapolis, but continued selling concertinas and publishing his magazine. He continued until he died in 1982 at nearly eighty.
The life of Pat Watters was devoted to the promotion and preservation of music, and especially polka music. He was an importer, peddler, marketing expert, historian, linguist, traveler, writer and music lover. He sold music for over 50 years, which he believed improved our quality of life, preserved our heritage and built friendships. He would have felt honored that he was chosen to be in the Polka Music Hall of Fame and would have enjoyed the parties and socializing that accompanies this celebration.