John O. Vaters, 87, shoe store owner

October 04, 2003

John O. Vaters, a former Bata Shoe Co. manager who later opened several Vaters' Shoes stores, died of cancer Wednesday at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, Fla. The former Seabrook resident was 87.

Mr. Vaters was born in Ziln, Czechoslovakia, and as a child he moved with his family in 1921 to Chicago, where he graduated from public schools.

He went to work for the Bata Shoe Co. in Belcamp in the 1930s and was sent to Czechoslovakia, where he learned shoemaking and was a management trainee.

Mr. Vaters returned to Baltimore and managed a company shoe store before establishing his own business in the early 1940s.

He owned and operated shoe stores in Annapolis, Hagerstown and Washington until the 1960s, when he sold the business and moved to St. Petersburg, Fla.

Mr. Vaters, a Clearwater resident, worked as a real estate agent and developer and continued working until his death.

He enjoyed playing classical violin and making rings and necklaces for family and friends.

He was the member of several Czechoslovak cultural organizations.

Services were private.

Mr. Vaters, whose four previous marriages ended in divorce, is survived by his wife of 10 years, the former Olga Panasik; three sons, Michael Vaters of Hagerstown, John Vaters of Miami and Thomas Vaters of St. Petersburg; a daughter, Jane M. Cantwell of Mendham, N.J.; 11 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.

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