If it’s cold, he puts on shoes. He also puts a pair on when he goes in the Dining Commons. And sometimes for walking through the woods. Otherwise, Steve Waters can generally be seen barefoot—in the office, in the classroom, on the stage for a jazz band concert. “When I was a kid we just never wore shoes in the summer and I still normally don’t,” Steve says. When he came to PUC, Steve had long hair—past-the-shoulders long hair. “What’s amusing to me about it,” he says, “is that it was only after I cut my hair that people started noticing that I was barefoot!”
Steve’s soles (shod or otherwise) are familiar with a wide range of surfaces and adventures, including the stage. His life as a saxophonist began in third grade and has included various jazz groups, sax quartets, and the PUC wind ensemble. But he also has quite an acting history. “I used to act in two or three things a year until I became department chair, and that kind of put a stop to it,” he explains.
But Steve likes to say that the highlight of his drama career was the summer he spent acting on Broadway. “Then I have to acknowledge that it was Broadway and Seventh—in Skagway, Alaska,” he laughs.
A Sacramento couple who built a theatre in Skagway had seen some Dramatic Arts Society productions and asked eight faculty, staff and student actors to spend the summer entertaining tourists coming off the cruise ships. “We had kind of a vaudeville-type show,” Steve recounts, “a barbershop quartet with corny jokes and little skits.” Daneen Akers, who now teaches in our English department, helped write a melodrama for the show. They called themselves the Gold Pan Players and, says Steve, “It was pure joy.”
That was about ten years ago. More recently, when Steve and his wife, Marlo (our assistant registrar) were on their honeymoon, they spent a day in Skagway. They found that the theatre had been carved up into little shops; but some locals still remember The Gold Pan Players.
You might not usually envision a math teacher on stage. But, Steve says, he’s not the only one in his department who’s a little atypical. “Our math department here is about as non-stereotypical as they come, I think. All of us have diverse interests outside of mathematics, and I think that makes it a better place.”
So Steve’s barefoot propensities don’t interrupt the flow of department life. In fact, department chair Lloyd Best calls Steve “our designated response to Aubyn’s not-so-sneaky display of locomotion.”* Roy Benton, another math professor, discovered the childhood background to Steve’s habit and has to keep it in mind: “I have to remind myself of that as I see him tapping his big toe while blowing on his bari sax during jazz band concerts, where the setting seems decidedly unnatural for 40-something foot nudists. But it works impressively for him—just ask the students of the Patterns [Honors] course.”
Steve also complements his bare feet with other “diverse” interests: an iPod stuffed full of classical, jazz and popular music; cats named Angel, Leonardo da Vinci (he takes no responsibility for those two names—his kids came up with them), and Chebyshev; and a tendency to leave his car sitting in the garage. And though we may not have seen much of him on stage recently, what with a fat load of extra assignments, you can watch for Steve around campus...with or without shoes.
* Aubyn Fulton of the psychology and social work department is famed for perpetually wearing white sneakers
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