Hall of Fame – 1976
Pat Watters (1902-1982) was born in Dallas County, Texas in 1902, his childhood was spent in frequent moves between ranching and operating small businesses. He 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.
During his travels in Wisconsin, he met Marie Fondow and got married. Moving to Minneapolis in 1939, he started 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 one 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 Publishing 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 the age of 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.