Anita Elaine Bates (Stahmer)
Our beloved and cherished ‘Mom’ and ‘Grandma’ and a treasured native of Santa Barbara, Anita Elaine (Stahmer) Bates passed away unexpectedly at Cottage Hospital on May 22, surrounded by her five adoring children. She had recently celebrated her 86th Birthday.
Anita was born at St Francis Hospital on April 28, 1931, to parents Karl and Catherine Stahmer, the middle sibling to sister Carmilita Stahmer Zorovich and brother Karl ‘Butch’ Stahmer, all predeceased. Growing up on the corners of Anapamu and Nopal and then Bath and De La Guerra streets, Anita enjoyed all that her lovely small town offered, especially her fondest early days of playing on the County Bowl stage, running across the highway to the beach, dancing at the SB Recreation Center, and going back to The Beach! She attended Jefferson Elementary, Santa Barbara Junior High and graduated from Santa Barbara High School with the famous Class of 1949. Known for her beautiful infectious smile, warm bubbly personality and deeply loyal alliance, Anita developed friendships she held close and celebrated from her school days throughout her life. She was one of the most fun-loving and generous of friends, always radiating a zest for life.
It was junior year at SBHS that Anita met her future husband, classmate Robert (Bobby) Bates. Anita and Bob were married on August 19, 1951, at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Santa Barbara. After a quick reception at the home of her parents and with everything they owned packed into the car, the newlyweds headed down to San Diego the night before Bob was to report to the Navel Training Base. Anita was a Navy Wife!
Anita and Bob were married for sixty-two adventure filled years – a lifetime in itself, until Bob’s passing in 2014. Their adoration for each other was beyond apparent, their commitment to each other endless. In a romance that started when they were only 17 years old, Anita and Bob shared a life partnership deeply loving each other and their five children, Michael (Adrienne), Cindy (Michael Elster), Bob Jr. (Denise), Kenneth (Heidi), and Steven (Nicole), and seven grandchildren, Kaitlyn & Jamie Elster, Michael Bates, Owen Bates, and Olivia, Hannah and Amelia Bates, each who will cherish memories of Grandma and Papa forever.
Anita was a bigger-than-life Mom and Grandma, so devoted to her children and grandchildren, her greatest purpose in life. The matriarch, the ‘Joy and Glue’ of the Bates family, she created a home filled with love, laughter, and lots of food. With an already full family of seven, the table was usually set for ten or more, as her willingness to care for the neighborhood kids was well-known, everyone called her “Mama Bates”. There was nothing more special and inviting than Mom cooking in the kitchen and her famous spaghetti on the menu. It goes without saying; Mom’s Chocolate Cake – hand-beaten 200 times, with icing made from scratch – was famous all over Santa Barbara. Most heartwarming to Mom was when one of her kids or grandkids walked through her door – each greeted by her twinkling eyes and happy embrace. The greatest gift to all was to walk through her door.
From her early days working as Thrifty’s Candy Counter Manager, for her stylish eye in selecting the perfect shirt and tie ensemble at Harris & Frank, to selling homes as a Licensed Real Estate agent for many years, Anita delighted in her work immensely. Always taking part in the happenings around town, she was very active in several clubs and organizations. The early years were filled with membership in The Young Business Women’s Club, Town and Country Women’s Club, Teacher’s Wives Club, Boys Club Basket Ball Team Super Mom, Girl Scout Leader, and hosting all the Class of 1949 Reunion Committee meetings for 65 years! She was the first to volunteer for the PTAs (usually on three campuses at one time), school carnivals, team dinners, and later became famous for donating ‘Grandma’s Pillow Case Collection’ to her grandchildren’s fundraisers for over a decade.
When the kids were grown it was Anita’s turn to enjoy her hobbies and favorite things; often attending Shirley Temple by the Sea Doll Club and Four Seasons Garden Club meetings and events, operating a booth at the antique co-op Nicklebees in Ventura , attending Adult Ed Quilting Class, and tending to her four acre enchanted garden up on the hill. Anita could re-pot and grow anything and there wasn’t a frog, butterfly, bunny or lizard that she didn’t name and nurture in her garden.
Over the past few years, Anita loved to fill her social calendar with visits to friends, always leaving the house with a beautifully wrapped gift from her garden, her kitchen, or something that she found on an outing that reminded her of ‘someone special’. Luncheons with girlfriends and club meetings were very special to Anita, a time to engage with those dear to her heart.
Our dear Anita Elaine Stahmer Bates left us all too soon, yet there is much remaining here to remind us of her Kindness, Beauty, Grace, and Love. There will always be a cloud in the sky that will have us looking up and hearing her say, ‘what does that look like to you? ’. There will be ever tinging wind-chimes swaying in the wind, her encouragement to make us want to dance. There will forever be ‘Sparkle on the Water’ that will make our hearts shine bright for our Mom. There will continue to be a Full Moon monthly in the Sky; it was Anita’s connection to all who have passed before her. Now and forever more, there will be that Full Moon in the Sky, and it will be our Loving Hello and connection to our Beautiful Mom Anita. Forever In Our Hearts. Forever the Love of Our Lives. Forever our Mom.
There is something remarkable that happens in our Universe – for those who believe. Anita left this earth on May 22, 2017 and Bob left on May 23, 2014. Oh how the Heavens celebrated a special reunion of True Love when Anita arrived! For our family, May 22 to May 23 will now always be a moment in time recognized for when our parents became one again. What a lovely thought.
A Celebration of Anita’s Life will be held on Monday, July 10, 3:00pm, at the Cabrillo Arts Pavilion, 1118 Cabrillo Boulevard, Santa Barbara, 93103. A reception will follow. In Lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Anita’s honor to the Santa Barbara Food Bank. McDermott-Crockett Mortuary.