Walter C. Wattles
The Fellowship's founder, Walter C. Wattles, was born in 1914 and grew up on the Vanderbilt University campus. His family lived in the old Wesley Hall, where his mother was the Dining Services Director. After graduating from Columbia Military Academy, Mr. Wattles returned to his beloved home and graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1936. He later joined the Navy as an officer and served during World War II.
Mr. Wattles was a prominent international insurance executive, working with high profile clients including Delta Airlines, Trans World Airlines, and the Smithsonian Institute. He conducted much of his business overseas at Lloyd's of London and cultivated lasting relationships with several Chairmen of Lloyd's, including Chairman Ian Findlay who was one of the Fellowship's biggest supporters in the marketplace. These Lloyd's leaders were instrumental not only in the formation of the Fellowship, but ultimately its enduring success.
As the father of three daughters, Mr. Wattles was passionate about the promotion of women in the workplace and the importance of understanding other cultures. To this end, he founded the Walter C. Wattles Fellowship at Lloyd's of London in 1969. His progressive thinking provided women with an opportunity not only to work in the international insurance market that was previously unavailable to them, but also to be immersed in England's culture and community. With Mr. Wattles at the helm, he was able to guide the Fellowship into the 21st century; the job description changed from being mostly clerical in the early years to the only program of its kind, offering a one-year, fully integrated position in the London insurance market. The Wattles Fellows were the very first women to conduct business on the floor of Lloyd's of London. Mr. Wattles would be very proud of how far the Fellowship has come.
Mr. Wattles passed away on June 15, 2009 in Atlanta after a long battle with Alzheimer's. He was 95. His wife, DeeDee Wattles, an exceptional woman and tireless supporter of the Fellowship, remained the Fellowship's matriarch and carried on Mr. Wattles's legacy until her death on November 15, 2015.