Wattams Establish Planned Gift to Support ATU Bands

Roger and Prissy Wattam
Roger and Prissy Wattam

Prissy and Roger Wattam have continued their financial support of the Arkansas Tech University Department of Music by establishing a substantial planned estate gift through the Arkansas Tech University Foundation that will positively impact multiple generations of ATU students.

“On behalf of the Arkansas Tech University students who will benefit from this gift into perpetuity, I extend heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to Prissy and Roger Wattam,” said Dr. Robin E. Bowen, ATU president. “Their generosity is an expression of their belief in the value of a strong instrumental music program at Arkansas Tech. By committing their resources in support of that cause, the Wattams are ensuring that the excellence established by ATU directors of band such as Marvin Williamson, Gene Witherspoon, Hal Cooper and Dr. Daniel A. Belongia will continue in the future.”

After graduating from Arkansas Tech in 1970, Mr. Wattam earned his Master of Music degree in oboe performance from the University of Southern Mississippi. Mrs. Wattam graduated from Arkansas Tech in 1973 and earned her Master of Music degree in clarinet performance from Michigan State University.

Mr. Wattam started his teaching career at Cameron University (Okla.) as the woodwind instructor and then at Tennessee Tech University as instructor of oboe. Mrs. Wattam was woodwind instructor at Carson-Newman College (Tenn.), taught private woodwind lessons and performed with her chamber trio throughout the region.

The Wattams became affiliated with Opryland USA as musicians and moved to Nashville, Tenn., where Mrs. Wattam had a studio of 60 woodwind students and Mr. Wattam operated as a freelancer. He started his work in instrument repair while in Nashville, which led to a 29-year career at Louisiana State University.

They both continued performing as members of the Baton Rouge Symphony as well as arranging and performing with their classical quartet, La Chanterelle de Musique.

After retiring from LSU, Mr. Wattam joined Mrs. Wattam in her successful 40-year real estate business. They recently celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary.

The Wattams previously established the Wattam Band Endowment and the Wattam Recording Series through the ATU Foundation for the benefit of the ATU music program.

“Prissy and Roger’s philanthropy in support of the ATU instrumental music program is aligned perfectly with our institutional mission of student access and success,” said Jason Geiken, ATU vice president for advancement. “By understanding the importance of both scholarships and resources for operations, they have developed a personalized program of giving that matches their passion for music and their love for Arkansas Tech. I am certain their mentor, Gene Witherspoon, would be very proud of them for the manner in which they have given back to a program that gave them so much.”

The Wattams’ support of ATU bands is one aspect of the ATU Friends of Music program, which was established to provide donors with an avenue to support scholarships, facility and equipment upgrades and travel opportunities for ATU music students.

More information about ATU Friends of Music is available at www.atualumni.com/friendsofmusic.

“Performing in groups such as the ATU bands and many small ensembles cemented relationships that have lasted a lifetime,” wrote Mr. and Mrs. Wattam in a joint statement. “Because of that, we have continued our ties to ATU and want that support to last beyond our lifetimes so that future students have the opportunities we had. With the guidance of Jason Geiken and Josh Clem (from the ATU Division of Advancement), we have been able to tailor make our gifts to reflect our passions.”