The first-born son of Eric Obie Cates and Vera Harrison Cates was born May 28, 1918. He was a life-long resident of the Searcy community in north Butler County where he resided on his farm, Persimmon Ridge Farms. He was a graduate of Butler County High School.
He was preceded in death by his beautiful wife, Louise Braswell Cates, his parents and his brother,
Aubrey Edwin (Tap) Cates.
He was a loving father to four children and their spouses, Linda C. Roquemore (Ted), Jean C. Blackmon (Larry), Ann C. Boutwell (John) and Eric Obie Cates, III (Anne). He was a wonderful grandfather to eleven grandchildren, Kimberly R. Hatchett (Hal), Hunter C. Roquemore, Brian Blackmon (Kellie), Braswell B. Braswell (Alex), Benjamin Blackmon (Misty), Katherine B. Bryant (Kris), Andrew Boutwell (Jane), Thomas Boutwell (Sarah), Eric Obie Cates IV (Melissa), Bailey Cates (Lisa) and Mary Anne Cates. Mr. Cates also had 25 great-grandchildren, Mary Beth and Thomas Jackson Hatchett; Ellery Roquemore, Hannah and Alec Meachin; Cade and Carlyle Blackmon, Deandre Butler; Browder and Sasser Braswell; Elle Caroline, Cates and Mary Beasley Blackmon; Micah and Claire Bryant; Elisha, Anna, Salter and Lucy Boutwell; Lilly Boutwell; Austin, Graham, and Alice Cates; and Olivia and Reid Cates.
The seven grandsons will serve as pallbearers and the members of the Downtown Coffee Club will serve as honorary pallbearers.
Mr. Cates was well known for his service to his country, his state and his hometown of Greenville.
He was a combat veteran of WWII and the Korean War. He served in the Alabama National Guard from 1940 – 1975, retiring at the rank of Colonel. An ardent supporter of all veterans, he remained active in the American Legion and was recently honored for his 70 years of membership. He was the voice of the veteran at many school and community Veteran Day commemorations.
From 1974 – 1982, he was an Alabama State Representative for House District 84, serving as Chairman of Military Affairs, also as a member of the Banking, Constitution and Elections Committees. He was the Director of public relations for the Alabama Bankers Association from 1983 -1988. Locally, he was a director of the Greenville Bank, a member of the Advisory Board of Peoples Bank, and emeritus member of the Advisory Board of BankTrust and Trustmark Bank.
Mr. Cates was the retired County Executive Director of the Butler County Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Service.
A life-long farmer, cattleman, and timber grower, he was an active member of the Butler County Farmers Federation. He served as county President and regional Vice-President of the Alabama Cattleman’s Association. In 1984, he was the recipient of the W. Kelly Mosley Environmental Award. He was inducted into the Alabama State Agriculture Hall of Honor in 2015. His Persimmon Ridge Farms was recognized in 2017 as the state’s first Alabama Bicentennial Farm for 200 years of continuous family ownership.
An education advocate, he served for twelve years as a member and President of the Board of Trustees for Greenville High School. He was President of the Parents Association and a Trustee at Marion Military Institute.
A loyal member of the Fort Deposit United Methodist Church, he served as Chairman of the Board, Lay Speaker and taught Sunday school for over thirty years.
Until the end of his life, he continued to be very active in civic affairs of Greenville. While he was a member of many organizations, he was especially proud of his memberships, since 1958, in the Kiwanis Club and the Downtown Coffee Club, where members and friends met to solve the world’s problems. He remained a patron of the Searcy Volunteer Fire Department. He was the oldest member of the Butler County Historical and Genealogy Society.
As a living example of America’s free enterprise system, at the age of eighty, he created the Cates Development Company, LLC, with all of his children and grandchildren as partners, he built residential neighborhoods in Greenville.
Mr. Cates’s life has been an inspiration to many. Exemplified by his keen interest in life, he will be remembered for his enduring attention to his family and friends, his sense of humor and love of a good story, his never wavering faith in God and his allegiance to his country. He will be remembered as a true American citizen, proud of his country and family.
Visitation was held Monday, April 9 at Dunklin & Daniels Funeral Home from 6-8 p.m. The funeral was held Tuesday, April 10 at the First United Methodist Church of Greenville at 2 p.m. with the Reverends Katie Cates Bryant and Dennis Carlson officiating. A graveside service with military honors followed at Magnolia Cemetery.
The family would like to thank all the residents and staff at Country Place Senior Living for their friendship and attentive care; to caregivers Norma Johnson and Marilyn Peagler, who tenderly cared for him in his final weeks and to Southern Care Hospice for their devoted service to him and his family. A special thank you to all of his dear friends who prayed, called, and visited with him making his life richer by their presence.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Fort Deposit United Methodist Church or to a charity of your choice.