Landscaping and tree surgery paid the bills for Gary Waters, but hot sauce made him happy.
Waters started making hot sauce and other savory sauces as a hobby, said his wife, Kathy Waters, but it eventually turned into a business.
“He was always cooking, and he loved to do it,” Waters said of her husband. “He loved hot peppers, but he could never find in the store the same flavors he could make at home, so he started making his own.”
Using a nickname bestowed on him by friends, “Chef Boy Hidy” — a play on the colloquial expression “boy howdy” — Waters started bottling, and later selling, his homemade hot sauce.
“I began making the sauce just for friends,” Waters said in a 1996 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about a freakishly hot habanero sauce he made. “I didn’t intend for it to become a business. But everybody likes it.”
Gary Clint Waters of Douglasville died Feb. 26 at Emory University Hospital of complications from multiple organ failure. He was 63. A memorial service is planned for 3 p.m. Saturday at SouthCare Cremation & Funeral Society, Marietta, which is also in charge of arrangements.
A native of Atlanta and a 1969 graduate of Roosevelt High School, Waters worked at the former Atlanta Dairy for 20 years before starting his own landscaping business. He was still taking landscaping jobs last summer, until he became too ill to work, his wife said.
“He really loved the life he lived,” said Rick Waters, a cousin. “He loved the outdoors and he loved to have a good time.”
Lately, Gary Waters’ idea of a good time included finding ways to cook that were full of flavor, but low on fat. After health complications a few years ago he began to change his diet and encouraged others to do the same, his wife said. He taught his style of cooking at Kroger’s School of Cooking and on Georgia public television.
“He changed his whole outlook,” his wife said. “He wanted to share his style of cooking with anybody who would listen.”
Waters used his hot sauces to boost flavor, and he made them in varying degrees of intensity. He had the super-hot habanero hot sauce, once dubbed “the Killer” by an AJC food writer; his Original XXX Hot Sauce; and an Original Liquid Hickory Smoke sauce. Waters raised his own habaneros and made his sauces with vinegar and several spices — the quantities and combinations he largely kept to himself.
“Making the sauces was something Gary really loved to do,” his wife said. “And he had a sauce for about everything.”
In addition to his wife, Waters is survived by brothers Joseph C. Waters of Covington, Henry H. Waters of Loganville, James L. Waters of Atlanta and Richard M. Waters of Atlanta; and a sister, Carrie Elaine Waters of Stockbridge.