Phoenix – Austin Bates was one of the few, blessed people who, at the young age of 16, found his passion. He went to the ice factory in the early 1950’s for a job and was told that they were not hiring that day, but perhaps crop dusters were. The 16-year-old drove to West Phoenix, met a crop dusting pilot, and from that day forward aviation was Austin’s passion. He flew helicopters in the Marines, commercial airlines for several major carriers, and refueling tankers for the Arizona Air National Guard.
Austin also loved horses, skiing, fishing in the White Mountains, and boating at Saguaro Lake, Lake Havasu, Lake Powell, and once even across to Catalina Island. He only bought blue boats, and always named them, “Blue Boat.” He believed that “a tidy boat was a happy boat.”
Austin grew up with three sisters and had three daughters. He always joked that he had lived most of his life in a Sorority House.
He was a graduate of North High and some of his life-long friends were classmates from Kenilworth Elementary and North High. While in high school he worked summers at Boy Scout Ranches and had box canyon swimming, wire fence mending, and mountain lion sighting stories to tell. He graduated from ASU and was invited to return 50 years later to march with the graduating class while the commencement was given by then President Barack Obama.
He was a kind man who believed in being friendly to all people and helping animals at any cost. Austin was born in Akron, Ohio, but came to Arizona at such a young age and loved Arizona so much that he always told people he was an Arizona native.
Austin is preceded in death by 3 brother-in-laws, Sam, Kyran, and Fred, 1 niece, Margie, his sister, Maggie, and his parents, Paul and Margaret Bates. Survived by nieces, nephews, 2 sisters, 3 daughters, and 6 grandchildren.
Austin Brewster Bates will be laid to rest at 9:30 in the morning on Tuesday, September 4th at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona.
Austin will be missed by family, friends, and Arizona. His family loves him for all of the times we shared together.
Published in The Arizona Republic from Aug. 28 to Aug. 31, 2018