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Sumner Waring Obituary

FALL RIVER - Sumner James "Jim" Waring, Jr., age 74, a 4th generation Funeral Service Professional for over 50 years and Chairman of Affiliated Family Funeral Service, died Wednesday, October 6, 2010, in Fall River surrounded by his family after a valiant effort to combat cancer. He was the husband of Elizabeth "Liz" A. (Westgate) Waring, with whom he recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary.

Born in Fall River, son of the late Sumner J. Waring, Sr., and Louise (Borden) Waring, he resided in Fall River during his youth, Swansea for 30 years, Westport Harbor and New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

Jim attended Fall River Public Schools, was a graduate of the Choate School, Babson College, and the former New England Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences (NEI) where he was "Outstanding Member" of his 1960 graduating class. He later served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of NEI and Board of Overseers at Mt. Ida College. In 1990 he received an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Mt. Ida.

A Funeral Service devotee, caring for families with compassion and the deceased with Dignity was his life's devotion. Joining his family's funeral home in 1958, Jim led the Waring firm, founded in 1871 by his great-grandfather, Henry J. Waring, to serve all faiths and nationalities, regardless of financial circumstance. In 1990, Sumner James "Jay" Waring, III, the 5th generation, joined the firm and with his Dad expanded their business to 19 funeral homes throughout Eastern Massachusetts. In 1996, the firm joined Service Corporation International and the Dignity Memorial network which is the world's largest publicly-owned funeral service company headquartered in Houston, Texas.

Jim was Past President of the National Funeral Directors Association, the Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association, a founding member and Vice President of the International Funeral Directors Association and past Chairman of the Massachusetts State Board of Embalming and Funeral Directing.

A dedicated leader and volunteer for many local, regional and national causes, countless organizations have benefited from Jim's insight, commitment and boundless energy. Deeply committed to the City of Fall River, his family's proud heritage dates back to his great, great-grandfather, Nathaniel Borden, who was the second Mayor of Fall River and later a United States Representative.

He was President and later Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Adams House for 38 years, and spearheaded the establishment of the area's first residential retirement community, "Bay View."

Past President of the Fall River Chamber of Commerce, Jim was named Outstanding Citizen of the Year in 1986. A member of the Fall River Rotary Club since 1961, he served as President during its 50th Anniversary and he received the Paul Harris Fellow Award. He was appointed Trustee of the Board of SMU, now UMass Dartmouth, by the late Governor Francis Sargent and again by Governor Michael Dukakis and served as Vice Chairman and Treasurer. He also served on the Board of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the Southern New England School of Law and the Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service in Houston, Texas. A member of the BCC Foundation and the Board of Higher Education, he was Chairman of the Fall River Drop-Out Task Force and was a founding member of the Fall River Regional Task Force, a group of area business leaders who formed a think-tank to advise city government on issues impacting Fall River. He also served on the Massachusetts Judicial Nominating Council and the Fall River-New Bedford CEO Group.

Jim's community service also included serving on the Boards of the former Truesdale and Charlton Hospitals where he was named an Honorary Trustee, the Presidents Council of Charlton Memorial Hospital, the Fall River Historical Society, Secretary of the B.M.C. Durfee High School Athletic Association, which recently named a scholarship in his honor, the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, the Town of Swansea Finance and Advisory Board, the YMCA, the Greater Fall River Foundation, United Way, Council of Churches, Citizens Scholarship Foundation, District Nursing Association, Hospice Outreach of Greater Fall River, National Hospice Foundation, Fall River Marine Museum and the Museum of Funeral History. In 1996, the Moby Dick Council honored him with the Good Scout Award.

He also served on the Board of Directors of the former Fall River National Bank, Troy and Lafayette Cooperative Banks, Incorporator of Citizens Savings Bank, the Regional Advisory Board for Bank Boston and Congdon and Carpenter Company.

He was a lifelong member of the First Congregational Church in Fall River where he served as Chairman of the Board of Deacons and also its Prudential and Sarah Brayton Fund Committees. In addition, he recently became a member of the United Congregational Church in Little Compton.

Jim was a member of the Fall River Country Club, New Bedford Country Club, Acoaxet Club, Quequechan Club, Beverly Yacht Club, Algonquin Club, Sugar Mill Country Club and Smyrna Yacht Club.

An avid sports fan, he loved every Boston sports team and attended 47 consecutive Red Sox opening days. A deeply loyal friend to all, Jim shared many happy times with his pals at thousands of sporting events throughout his life.

In addition to his wife, "Liz," he leaves a son, Sumner J. "Jay" Waring, III and his wife, Kristin of Mattapoisett and Houston, Texas; a daughter, Christine E. Waring of Providence, RI; a sister, Sally Buffinton and her husband, Thomas of Marion, MA; 3 granddaughters, Abigail, Elizabeth and Frances Waring; mother-in-law, Muriel Westgate Emerson of Fall River, MA; and several nieces and nephews.

He was the brother of the late Barbara Chamberlain and step-son of the late B. Ellen (Frost Haley) Waring.

His Funeral Service will be held Tuesday, October 12, 2010, at 10 a.m. in the First Congregational Church, 282 Rock Street, Fall River. Visiting hours Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. and Monday from 3 to 6 p.m., in the WARING-SULLIVAN HOME OF MEMORIAL TRIBUTE at CHERRY PLACE, 178 Winter Street, (between Cherry and Locust Streets) Fall River.

Contributions in his honor may be made to Adams House/Bayview Life Care Community, 1168 Highland Avenue, Fall River, MA 02720 and the "Sumner James Waring, Jr. Athletic Scholarship" at Durfee High School c/o Peter Collias, P.O. Box 2519, Fall River, MA 02722. Burial will be in Beech Grove Cemetery in Westport.

For tributes, online guest book and directions, please visit:

This obituary was originally published in the Standard-Times (New Bedford, MA).
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Published online on 10/8/2010 courtesy of Standard-Times.

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