Bill Bates, 1/7/1920 – 8/1/1995

My father has been gone from this earth 17 years now. I miss him every single day, and I am certain I shall miss him the rest of my life.

As formidable as he looks in this picture, in his mid-twenties, ready to go to war (well, not in this uniform, but you know what I mean), I saw a different side of him. If war was his duty for a few years, he did it, bringing to bear all the craft and commitment at his command. But he did not love war, and he taught his son the same attitude.

Dad’s first passion was teaching, specifically, teaching middle-school science. Anyone who thought school teaching was easy work with summers off had only to watch Dad to be disabused of that notion. Later, he qualified and served as a school counselor; that, too, he took very seriously. Again, I saw a different side of him… playing catch in the front yard, or sending me out for a hail-Mary pass, or building a miniature golf course in the back yard from scrap lumber, or showing his obvious affection for his wife, my mother, Irma. Dad knew how to enjoy life, too.

I would say they don’t make ’em like Dad anymore. But he would disagree. I’ve never known anyone with so much hope and optimism for the future; he had confidence that my generation would thrive and improve the lot of humankind, and that America would lead in that effort. I wonder what he would think of our condition today if he were here… or if he would decline to waste time on regrets, choosing instead to throw himself into some worthy project as he always did. What I can say without contradiction is that we could use a few more people like him today.

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  • MandT  On Saturday January 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    What a fine memorial Steve. We have that in common, the traditions of honor, service and compassion given to us by fathers we loved dearly. There is seldom a day goes by that I don’t think about my Dad and his gifts of consciousness molded by the striving for excellence. He was also a war hero, a true one—those that recognized and experienced the true terror of war and remained silent about its supposed glories. Thanks for this reminder of the greatest generation.

  • jams o donnell (Shaun Downey)  On Saturday January 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    A wonderful tribute, Steve. I kw I am still fortunate that bothmy parent s are still with us.

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