Katherine Bates

Obituary picture for Katherine Bates.

Katherine Evelyn “Connie” Bates died Aug. 12, 2019, just three weeks shy of her 102nd birthday, at Givens Highland Farms in Black Mountain, North Carolina, where her loving family was able to comfort her in her last days.

She was predeceased by the love of her life, her husband of over 71 years, the Rev. Dr. Leslie M. Bates, and by her grandson William Board. She is survived by her three children and their spouses, Daniel Bates and Ann Fratcher of Greer, South Carolina; Bette Bates and Robert Tynes of Black Mountain; and Ellen and Charles Board of Cary, N.C.; by four grandchildren, Alison Tynes Adams and husband Drew Adams, Robin Tynes-Miller and husband Scott Tynes-Miller, Benjamin Board and Nicholas Board; and by her 3-month old great-grandson, Cylis Adams.

Connie was born Sept. 1, 1917, to Vernon Moses Stone and Edith Ann Vosburgh Stone in Newark, New York. She attended the University of Buffalo and graduated cum laude with a degree in math and science from Greenville College in Illinois. While there, in February 1938, she had her first date with Les, and they were married Dec. 31, 1942, in Buffalo. She worked at the Merckens Chocolate Company lab in Buffalo prior to their marriage and helped put Les through New York Theological Seminary in Manhattan in 1942-43 by working as a chemist at General Analine and Dye Company.

In 1943, the couple moved to McPherson, Kansas, where their son, Danny, was born. From 1945-51, they lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where Connie worked at the Bridgeport Public Library to help put Les through graduate school at Yale. Her job there was clipping newspapers and magazines — a skill she would continue to practice.

In 1951, Connie, Les and Danny moved to Columbia, where they would reside for the next 39 years and where Connie’s daughters, Bette and Ellen, were born. In 1965, Connie began teaching mathematics at Jefferson Junior High School, where she remained (other than one year spent shepherding her family around the world and living in India) until retiring in 1984. She was head of the math department during her final 10 years there.

After Les and Connie retired, they moved to Fukuoka, Japan, for two years to teach conversational English. In 1990, they moved to Black Mountain, North Carolina, to be near their children and grandchildren. They became active members of the Black Mountain United Methodist Church, and their love-filled home, with a beautiful mountain view, became the favorite place in the world for their family.

Connie believed in always being active. She was a phenomenal cook and an enthusiastic gardener. She brought caring and artistic excellence to all that she did. Connie was an avid reader who delighted in learning new things, keeping up with the news of the world and clipping newspaper articles to share with her family.

One of Connie’s defining characteristics was the deep and unswerving love and devotion she showed to her husband, her children, their spouses and her grandchildren. Every day she spent with any of them made them feel special and loved. Even in her last couple of months, that delight and joy was still on her face when she held and cuddled her great-grandchild.

But the real story of her life is the love story that she and her husband, Les, crafted through every day of their more than 71 years of marriage. They drew enormous strength and support from each other. The unyielding devotion and love they had for each other enriched the lives of everyone around them. The story of Connie’s life in three simple words is “Connie and Les.”

The family would especially like to thank the wonderful staff of Givens Highland Farms for their kind and loving care of Connie over the past three years. She loved those who helped care for her, and their friendliness and generosity made them seem like extended family to all of us.

A memorial service and celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. Aug. 25 at Givens Highland Farms Assembly Room. Private interment will take place at Mountain View Memorial Park in Black Mountain. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Black Mountain United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 517, Black Mountain, N.C.

Condolences may be sent to www.harwoodhomeforfunerals.com.

  • I'm an education reporter studying print and digital editing. Any tips or story ideas can be sent to me at hlht46@mail.missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

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