Robert E. Lee Bates
1931 - 2014, Santa Barbara
Bates, Robert E. Lee,
Devoted Loving Husband, Adored Father, and Cherished Grandfather “Papa” passed away peacefully on May 23rd 2014 at home surrounded by his family, after another courageous battle with esophageal cancer. He was 82 years old.
Bob was born in Miami, Florida on June 28th, 1931 to Charles Strickland and Marguerite Corrigan Bates. Growing up the youngest of ten children, with four brothers and five sisters, Bob rose above challenging circumstances after his father past away when he was only eight years old. He attended South Side Elementary and Palm Beach Junior High in Florida before moving to Santa Barbara with his mother and sisters in 1946 to be on the west coast and closer to his brothers who were all serving in the armed forces.
Bob attended Santa Barbara High School where he immediately created many life-long friendships that were relished and celebrated for over 65 years. He was known for his great sense of humor, being a fierce competitor on the field, and his love for cars! Bob was the only member in Glee Club that was asked to just move his lips and not sing! Bob met and fell in love with the most beautiful and sweetest girl on campus, his high school sweetheart and future wife, Anita Stahmer. They graduated together with the ‘Class of 49’. Bob married Anita, daughter of the late Karl and Katherine Stahmer, on Sunday, August 19th, 1951, at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Santa Barbara. With everything they owned packed in the back of their ‘49 Mercury, the newlyweds headed down to San Diego.
Bob enlisted in the U. S. Navy, reported to the Navel Training Base in San Diego on Jan 1, 1951. Trained as a Fire Control Technician, Bob proudly served four years on the destroyer USS Orleck DD-886, initiator of the famous United Nations’ ‘Train Busters Club’, during the Korean War. Bob loved to tell his kids that he had the best job on the ship responsible for target acquisition, ‘computing range and trajectory up to 7 miles away’ and pulling the triggers on the biggest cannons on the ship. His favorite story was of one ‘Train Buster’ mission, ‘That while patrolling the coast of North Korea several miles out to sea, he spotted a train hiding in several tunnels with just two box cars visible in between tunnels. Immediately he computed the target information, and fired the first salvo right through one of the two exposed box cars and was very surprised when the entire mountain erupted because the train happened to be an ammunition train!’ Forever a ‘Tin Can Sailor’, Bob lived by the ship’s motto: Foresight & Vigilance.
Upon returning to Santa Barbara with the first of four sons, baby Michael, the new family took residence at Hoff Heights. Bob put himself through Santa Barbara College on the Riviera campus and then UCSB while working at A&P Grocery Store & Jordano’s. A member of Pi Sigma Alpha, Bob graduated ‘Magna Cum Laude’ from UCSB with a BA in Political Science and English.
During this time Cindy, Bobby ‘Jr’ and Kenny joined the family.
After Student Teaching at Bishop and Carpinteria High Schools, Bob began teaching at SB Junior High and then SB High Schools until 1963, when Dos Pueblos High School opened its doors.
Bob’s passion for educating was well known across the new campus and for the next 22 years room H-1 would be a center-point for students eager to learn and debate topics of Political Science, Government, Civil Liberties, and World Religions and History with Mr. Bates. Students will forever remember governing ‘Batesovia’, tales of the ‘Black Widow Theory’, and the delivery of cinnamon rolls to class. Bob was unwavering in his belief and dedicated his career to the concept that young people understand the importance of government, the power of politics and their personal social responsibility connected to it. A favorite teacher often holding court at his doorway, Mr. Bates always extended himself beyond the classroom. Bob also taught night school Citizenship classes at SBHS for many years. The arrival of forth son, Steven, had all of DPHS talking!
Bob was long-time member of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors (#126), after securing his Real Estate and Brokers Licenses in the early 70’s. Countless clients and agents sought Bob’s expertise and support with many transactions throughout the years. Creating the ‘BTTL’ Limited Partnership of Bates,Teague,Tucker & Lanning, he built many apartment and condo projects throughout SB.
Golf was one of Bob’s favorite pastimes after retiring from teaching. He joined the Montecito Country Club, and looked forward to the game that brought great friends together weekly. With the ‘Luck of the Irish’ upon him, Bob hit three Hole-In-One shots within 13 months. Two at Montecito and one at Ojai Valley Inn!
Bob’s collection of antique cars brought him great joy. The comradery of a car caravan, the constant ‘hunt’ for a new favorite car, and road trips to car shows with ‘The Best Group of Guys’, always filled Bob’s social calendar. The sight of that 1933 Ford Phaeton rolling in meant Bob Bates was at the show!
Nothing in the world was more important to Bob than his family, his greatest pride. The patriarch, strength and soul of the family, everything he did in life was for his wife and children. Dad never missed a Boy’s Club basketball or baseball game, high school football or track meet, boat drag race, - every event and accomplishment celebrated. Summers were devoted to great family time trips to Bass Lake & Naciemiento Lake, with home-made ‘White Whale’ and then ‘Papanator’ in tow. A trip of a lifetime was taken in 1978 when Bob flew his family to Miami, Florida to share his childhood memories. Bob and Anita traveled the country coast to coast with many dear friends, Maui, Hawaii being a favorite destination. As the families grew, the arrival of grandchildren gave ‘Papa’ the greatest delight – each one filling his heart with joy and cherished time together for dance performances, drum exabitions, soccer goals and driver training!
Bob is survived by his wife of 62 years, Anita Stahmer Bates, and their five children – Michael (Adrienne), Cindy (Michael Elster), Robert Jr. (Denise), Kenneth (Heidi), and Steven (Nicole). Bob and Anita have seven grandchildren – Kaitlyn & Jamie Elster, Michael Bates, Owen Bates, Olivia, Hannah and Amelia Bates. Bob will be Forever Loved by his family and missed dearly by all who knew him.
The family would like to extend their heart-felt gratitude to Bob’s team of doctors who shared his battle the past 23 years – Dr. Mark Abate, Dr. William Hahn, Dr. Alex Koper, and Dr. Erno Daniel. In particular, to surgeon Dr. Wilton ‘Bill’ Doane , who performed a miracle – you will forever be in our hearts. To Susanna Dubler of Corum Care, we are blessed to have had your compassionate care and guidance.
A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, September 26th, at 2:00pm, at First Presbyterian Church, 21 E Constance Ave, (corner of State Street and Constance). Antique Classics, Hot Rods welcome. In Lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bob’s memory to Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation or Visiting Nurses & Hospice Care. McDermott-Crockett Mortuary.