After a brief illness, the angels came for our dad, Don Pates, on March 9, 2019.
Born on February 24, 1924, in Webster City, Iowa, he lived a very long and distinguished life and had just celebrated his 95th birthday.
How blessed we were to have this extraordinary man share his life with us. He will be remembered by everyone he touched with words and phrases like "integrity," "honor," "pay it forward," "do good," and "make somebody's day a little better." Perhaps his best epitaph is to share some words that his friends have used to describe him: "He was a real man." "A true hero." "He saved my life." "A helluva man." "An original one-of-a-kinder." "What a man." "A man as men should be." "I am sure you will be one of the special ones that hear, 'Well done, good and faithful servant!'" A true Christian in every sense of the word, he always wanted to make the world a better place and did an excellent job of matching actions to words.
He served his country in the US Army as a medic during WWII in Europe, earning a bronze star, a purple heart, and numerous other medals. He continued his military service later in his life, serving in the Army Reserve, eventually attaining the rank of Colonel.
The army was the beginning of the long and distinguished career as the "Doc Pates" that so many people know and love. He truly loved his job and never saw it as "just a job." He was never interested in retiring and in 2009, received recognition from the Idaho Academy of Family Practice Physicians as "Idaho's Oldest Living Family Practice Physician."
Although his work always kept him busy, it never stopped him from being the best dad ever. He still always managed to be there for us and teach us and guide us and play with us and, most of all, just love us and be our great dad. In both work and play, he believed in giving things 100% effort and in lifelong learning. He was always up for a new adventure. He said many, many times that "You're never too old to learn something new," and one of his most favorite mottos was, "Just keep moving." He certainly proved this: he was over 40 when he learned to do most of his favorite activities such as skiing, motorcycling and most recently skydiving--at the tender age of 92! Words to live by indeed!
He fell in love with our mom, Elaine Bullerman, and they married on September 6, 1950. With Elaine, he leaves behind 3 children: Carla Pates-Teitt (Bob) of Salt Lake City, Utah; Karen Dickson of Boise, Idaho; and Colleen Winters (Jerry) of St. George, Utah. After Elaine's death, he was married to longtime friend Peggy Rice of Belding, Michigan. After her death, he found love again with Jeanne Thome of Greenville, Michigan. They married in 2003 and were together until his death. His living "stepchildren" include, with Peggy, Jill Talbot of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and, with Jeanne, Noreen Thome of Grand Haven, Michigan; and David Thome (Beth) of Smyrna, Michigan. Another "stepson," Dan Thome of Greenville, Michigan, has already gone ahead.
There will be no funeral. Instead, there will be a memorial service and celebration of life at Trinity Lutheran Church, 909 8th Street, Rupert, at 2:00 p.m. on March 23, 2019. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to any of the following organizations:
St. Joseph Indian School
1301 North Main Street
Chamberlain, SD 57325 (read more at www.stjo.org);
Oglala Lakota College
PO Box 537
Piya Wiconi Road
Kyle, SD 57752 (read more at www.olc.edu);
or Trinity Lutheran Church at the above address.
We're sure he skidded into Heaven on his big yellow motorcycle, dragging his footpegs as he rounded the last corner, hollering, "Woo hoo! What a ride!"
We'll miss you most dearly, Dad. Wakan tanka nici un. See you in Heaven.
Service arrangements are under the direction of Joel Heward Hansen Mortuary. Condolences may be shared with the family at Hansen-mortuary.com.
To send flowers to Don's family, please visit our floral section.