In Memory

Stephen Bates

Stephen Bates

Stephen C. Bates On Friday, Oct. 24, 2008, Sonoma lost one of its small-town characters. Steve passed away at home after a brief illness. Stephen Craig Bates was born Jan. 23, 1946 in Kansas City, Mo. He made Sonoma his home for the past 25 years, running his business, B&B Construction. Steve attended the University of Arizona and served in the United States Marine Corp. Prior to moving to California, Steve was a partner in Bates Grain Company with his father, Max Bates. Steve enjoyed the time he spent at the Esalen Institute on the Big Sur Coast and as a Park Service Ranger at Pt. Reyes Seashore. One of Steve’s many accomplishments was white-water rafting the Colorado River, twice! He loved to travel and enjoyed spending time with his family in Hawaii. Steve was a devoted father. His daughter, Hannah, has wonderful memories of the adventures and antics they shared together! Steve was larger than life, and we will miss not seeing him ride around town waving to all of us in his bright, yellow, flaming hot rod. Steve is preceded in death by his son, Blair Peterman; we find comfort in knowing they are together. He is also preceded in death by his parents, Helen Robinson and Max Bates; his stepbrother, Lance Campbell; and his stepsister, Serena Lawson. Steve is survived by his wife, Milenka Bates; his daughter, Hannah Bates; his stepdaughter, Margaret Webley of Puyallup, Wash.; his sister, Sharil Baxter-Butt (Tom), of Lanai, Hawaii; his stepsisters, Lynn Thanash, of Las Vegas and Patti Gorham, of Lenexa, Kan.; his nephew, Chris Lovvorn, of Lanai, Hawaii; his niece, Nicole Bartholomew (Michael) of Iowa City, Iowa and their children Ryan, Hannah, Emma and Julia; and longtime friend, Joy Massa, of Sonoma. Steve also leaves countless friends in Sonoma, Kansas City, Tacoma and around the world. A memorial will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 6 at the Sonoma Plaza, Grinstead Amphitheater. In lieu of flowers, please send memorial donations to Friends in Sonoma Helping (FISH), P.O. Box 507, Sonoma, CA 95476-0507, 707.996.0111. Arrangements under the direction of Duggan’s Mission Chapel, Mission Cremation Service, 525 W. Napa St., Sonoma.

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02/05/14 08:37 AM #1    

Ron Schauble

Flashback by Pete Silverman...

I remember Steve Bates.

In 1963 Alan Katzberg, Steve Bates and I, nearing the end of our brilliant high school careers, thought we might like to go college in Texas. Specifically, we thought we might like The University of Texas at Austin. So we decided to go visit The University. We launched off in Steve’s Chevy Impala on a night that it rained and blew so hard I was pretty confident we would end up three more senseless highway fatalities. Ours was the only vehicle driving through the storm on that two lane highway other than a plethora of eighteen wheelers attempting to wash us off the road. Nonetheless, several hours later we were in Austin. And it was not raining. We spent a few minutes looking at the campus, which, to our surprise, was pretty much empty. This owing to it being a school holiday and all. We then spent about 30 seconds debating the merits of going on to Mexico. Hell, it was only 250 miles away! There being no votes against, we headed down to Nuevo Laredo. We found this border town to be quite free of many of the annoying restrictions placed on the behavior of teenage boys which we ordinarily had to endure in Kansas City. Let me just say that we took full advantage of our brief, newfound freedom. I don’t remember how long we stayed there, only a day or two. We had by now accumulated about 15 minutes sleep since we left KC. Winding down, we decided to head back home. It was late afternoon and Alan and I elected to wait in the car while Master Bates (yes, we really did call him that when he was in a good mood) went back into a cantina we’d visited earlier, in order to finish a final piece of business there before we departed. Alan and I dozed off. I awoke in the middle of the night to the car bumping against the curb as we proceeded around a traffic circle in the wrong direction. Fortunately there was little traffic at that hour. Able to convince Steve that I was more roadworthy than he, I took the wheel. In a subsequent brief discussion with some gentlemen at a nearby gas station, which discussion consisted of a lot of pointing and hand-waving and some high school Spanish on the part of Alan, we determined that we were now considerably further into Mexico, Steve having chosen, consciously or not, to head South rather than North. Once back in Texas we decided that it would be a really cool idea to open up the lake pipes on the Impala so that its 283 cubic inch V8 might breathe free. For those not familiar, opening the lake pipes, a feature installed by Steve at great personal expense, allowed the exhaust to exit the engine without need to go through the muffler or tail pipe. Hard to describe just exactly how loud this made the car. So let me just say it was loud. Very loud. The intent was not to loosen our fillings, though that effect was achieved. Nope, the intent was to rouse all the citizens of those sleepy little South Texas towns. We thought this was a real hoot. A sheriff disagreed. A judge agreed with the sheriff, relieved us of all the excess cash we had. The only upside was that it being Texas, then as now only loosely associated with the rest of the United States, the ticket never appeared on my driving record. Now broke, we resorted to a variety of cost saving measures in order to get home. Among these was the use by Steve of his father’s credit card to buy gas. I think Alan did end up going to The University of Texas at Austin, believe he has lived in Austin since high school, in fact. Though I lived in Texas about 30 years I did not go to The University of Texas at Austin. But both of my sons did. Turns out that prior to leaving on our adventure Steve had neglected to tell his dad about our educational visit to Texas. Instead he’d told his dad that we were going to Baldwin, Kansas for a few days to visit a friend, or maybe it was a relative, attending Baker University. And we did stop there on the way home and make such a visit. But when Steve’s dad got the credit card bill with charges from South Texas through Oklahoma and Kansas, there was hell to pay for Steve.

My God it was fun to be young.

My God it was fun to be friends with Steve Bates.

Cheers to all, especially Steve.

Pete Silverman


03/27/14 10:21 AM #2    

Carolyn Townsend (Black)

Being a friend of Steves was a constant adventure even for my folks . They were his place of comfort many a time. Plus they did bail him put of jail once and he visited with them till his last days . His phone calls are still  missed.

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