Robert William Bates


(January 20, 1931 – June 5, 2020)

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Bob Bates died on June 5, passing peacefully of natural causes at his home in Hico, Texas. Robert William Bates was born in Waco, Texas, on January 20, 1931, to May Dorsey and Charles William Bates. He enjoyed an idyllic childhood in Hico, where he played high school football, worked at his mother’s florist shop, cruised the countryside on a Cushman scooter, and roamed the Bosque River with buddies who would become lifelong friends.

After graduating from Hico High School, Bob attended Tarleton State College in Stephenville and graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in agriculture. His 30-plus-year career as a scientist for the Soil Conservation Service led him to the South Texas towns of Goliad, Kenedy, and eventually Beeville, where he spent the majority of his tenure. Bob took great pride in helping farmers protect and restore their land, and was a devoted farmer and animal lover himself.

While based in Goliad, he met Joy Manz, his one true love and the joy of his life. They raised two children in Beeville before returning to Bob’s beloved Hico to spend their retirement.

Bob was a voracious reader, an avid antiques collector, and a reviver of clocks, cars, phonographs, and all things old. Though he never set foot on an airplane, he commanded an exceptional grasp of world cultures, history, and politics. He was a straight shooter with a colorful vocabulary and most of all, a kind heart.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents, son John Bates, and son-in-law Scott Lawless.

Surviving family who will cherish Bob’s memory are Joy, his wife of 62 years, daughter Jill Lawless, grandson and kindred collector Lucas Lawless, and brother- and sister-in-law Louis and Kathleen Manz, along with numerous nieces, nephews, and loyal friends.

Donations in Bob’s memory can be made to Farm Aid and the National Park Foundation.

A private family graveside service was held on June 7. In light of Covid 19 concerns, a celebration of life will be held when it is safe for everyone to gather.

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